“It’s ok. Just get out there and do your best.”
Normally, those are the thoughts that run through high school athlete Ashley Nicoletti’s head before a race. She focuses on positive self-talk, shaking out her arms and legs to stay loose.
But on that day, at the Connecticut Class S Track & Field Championships in 2019, that’s not what she was thinking at all.
Instead, she was focused on one of the other athletes in her race.
Under Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) rules, male athletes who identify as female are permitted to compete on women’s athletic teams. And in 2019, there were two male athletes competing as girls in the Class S Championships.
Both were in the girls’ 100-meter dash. And one of them was in Ashley’s preliminary heat.
So, instead of focusing on the race and thinking positive thoughts, Ashley was thinking about how the very best she could finish in her heat was second place, and the best she could finish overall was third. She had seen the times of these two male athletes. They were roughly a second faster than hers—a big gap in a sprint race where only fractions of a second can separate first place from sixth.
At the end of the race, Ashley was proud of her time. But that was soon replaced with disappointment. Ashley learned that both male athletes had finished in front of her during preliminaries, bumping her down in the rankings and out of finals by one spot—where she would have had the opportunity to qualify for the next round of competition, the State Open.
Ashley is not the only athlete that failed to advance to a higher level of competition because of this CIAC policy. In fact, within just three years, over 85 chances to compete in elite athletic competitions have been taken from girls across the state.
That’s why, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, several female athletes in Connecticut—including Ashley, Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, and Alanna Smith— filed a lawsuit to reverse this policy and restore a level playing field for women and girls.
Title IX was passed to ensure that women and girls would receive equal opportunities in education. But now, male athletes are being allowed to compete with girls for scholarship opportunities.
And, to no one’s surprise, they’re winning.
It is a biological reality that men and women are different. And those differences matter.
Men have greater muscle mass and bone density, higher lung capacity, and larger hearts than women. Those are scientific facts. Practically speaking, that means no matter how much work a female athlete puts into her training, it will never be enough for her to consistently beat a male athlete who is comparably fit and trained.
Yet, policies like the CIAC’s completely ignore these facts. And ultimately, when laws and policies ignore the differences between men and women, it is more often women who suffer the consequences.
Ashley, Selina, Chelsea, and Alanna can attest to this.
Thankfully, these brave female athletes are not content to sit on the sidelines and watch as their educational and athletic opportunities slip away.
They’re taking a stand. But they need you to stand beside them.
Sign your name to this petition calling for the athletic and academic futures of young women across the country to be safeguarded.
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