When Sandra Bucha entered high school in 1968, she wanted to be a competitive swimmer. But there were no girls’ teams in her state.
In 1972, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she and her father filed a federal lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association on behalf of girls who wanted to compete in school sports. They lost, in part because the judge noted that males have physical advantages over females, and thus schools had valid reasons for separate athletic competitions.
That same year, Congress passed Title IX, a law prohibiting sex discrimination by schools receiving federal money, which is almost all of them. Now colleges and schools that field athletic teams have significant numbers of girls/women’s teams and athletes.
Although I wish female athletics had been achieved without federal legislation and well before 1972, I’ve always thought providing equal opportunity is a great thing for everybody. And I’ve been proud of America for it.
Alanna Smith, a sophomore at Danbury High School in Connecticut, is a natural athlete. She’s the daughter of Lee Smith, a Hall of Fame major league pitcher, and her mom was a high-school long-distance runner. One uncle played professional baseball, another professional football, her grandfather was a high-school basketball and football standout, and her twin brother is a three-sport athlete.
“Sports is a huge part of who I am,” she says. “Training to compete and be my physical and mental best at the starting block is who I am, too. Running with my mom when I was younger taught me how to prepare, train and focus.”
She won state 100-meter championships in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. She’s proud to have set records and achieved personal goals. But as a high-school freshman, she had to compete against two males who identify as female in the state meet.
“No matter how many hours I trained – or how hard I worked on endurance, speed and strength – I had no chance to beat the physical strength of a biological male who previously ran in the men’s division.”
“I felt defeated before stepping onto the track. … It’s not that second or third place isn’t good enough for me if I’ve done my best; it’s just not fair.”
The two boys have been running girls off the track since 2017, setting 17 individual state meet records with times girls have little hope of ever breaking. Their sheer size and strength has resulted in more than 85 missed opportunities for Connecticut girls even to qualify for the next level of competition, even though neither transgender competitor was a top sprinter as a boy.
“It’s simply not fair for anyone born as a boy to compete against girls,” says Alanna. “That unfairness doesn’t go away because of what someone believes about their gender identity.”
So, Alanna and two other female Connecticut high-school athletes filed a federal lawsuit with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom to keep boys out of girls’ competitions. Bucha, now a lawyer, and 300 other current and former female athletes are pursuing similar action at the college level.
To illustrate the unfairness, the Connecticut suit notes the fastest female sprinter in the world, America’s great Allyson Felix, has more gold medals than Usain Bolt. However, Felix’s lifetime best in the 400-meter run is 49.26 seconds. And about 300 American high-school boys beat that time each year.
Says Bucha about the effect of allowing biological boys in girls’ competitions: “It isn’t merely the trophies and scholarships and opportunities at stake. It isn’t even all the benefits sports have so long provided to young women – in self-esteem and health and camaraderie with friends. It isn’t merely that girls who participate in sports tend to earn better grades, that so many Fortune 500 executives were athletes, or that sports force teen girls out of their own heads where they might stew to their own detriment. It’s the profound injustice of it.”
On his first day in office, Joe Biden signed an executive order purporting to require that schools receiving federal funding must allow boys self-identifying as girls onto girls’ sports teams – reversing a Donald Trump policy. Elections have consequences.
And the ACLU supports Biden’s awful policy.