Cynthia Monteleone is on a quest to educate people on what she perceives as unfairness in Hawaii high school athletics.
Monteleone, a track and field coach at Lahainaluna and a world champion age group runner (40-44) in the 400 meters, sent a complaint to the Department of Education’s civil rights office last week.
In the complaint, she states that allowing male to female transgender athletes to compete in girls sports is unfair and a violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association, which is responsible for running state tournaments in all sanctioned sports, has a policy of inclusion for transgender athletes, similar to 17 other U.S. states, according to TransAthlete.com. Simply put, the HHSAA allows athletes to participate based on their gender identitywithout the requirement of gender reassignment surgery.
The complaint stems from a Kamehameha-Maui athlete who participated in girls volleyball in the fall and is now taking part in track and field.
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Monteleone was at a recent Maui Interscholastic League meet and timed the Kamehameha-Maui athlete in the 400 meters. She recorded the athlete’s splits at 100 and 200 meters at approximately 12 and 26 seconds — times that are comparable to the best girls marks (12.39 and 25.82) from the 2019 Hawaii track and field season.
Monteleone also pointed out that 334 boys statewide finished 100-meter races with faster times than the the best girl (12.39) last year. That data can be found for premium subscribers at athletic.net.
“I am all for inclusion,” Monteleone said. “But there are basic physical advantages that male athletes have over female athletes, and the current HHSAA policy is discriminatory against female athletes. And there is also evidence that male to female transgender athletes who have had hormone suppression or gender reassignment surgery (requirements for transgender athletes at various levels of sports, including high school athletics in some states) still have those advantages.”
According to TransAthlete.com, 10 state high school sports associations in the U.S. base eligibility on the gender of an athlete at birth unless the athlete has had gender reassignment surgery.
The Kamehameha-Maui student has not had gender reassignment surgery.
The athlete’s parents want what’s best for their child.
“We love and support our daughter and want to see her succeed and thrive in all she aspires to achieve,” the parents wrote in a statement. “Playing (sports) gives her an outlet to do just that. Her well-being is most important to us.”
Kamehameha-Maui fully supports the athlete’s right to play for the girls teams.
“Ensuring that transgender students are supported in schools has been an emerging topic throughout the nation,” head of school Scott Parker wrote in a statement. “Kamehameha Schools affirms its support of transgender students in our learning community. It’s not something any of us has taken lightly. We are engaging with parents to respond to any concerns they may have.”
Monteleone has not heard back from the DOE, other than a confirmation of receipt of the complaint. In the meantime, she’ll keep spreading the word for what she feels is right.
“This is not a personal issue,” she said. “It’s a policy issue. … I’m raising this complaint because women deserve fairness in athletics. … It’s not a right-wing thing. I will continue to speak up, and I hope others will speak up for equality.”
The DOE responded to a request for commemt Sunday morning with this statement:
“HIDOE guides all public schools to support transgender students and to provide a safe and nurturing environment in both academics and athletics. Students are allowed to participate in recreational gym class activities and in-school sports in accordance with their sincerely held gender identity.”