Friday, May 24, 2024

Trans middle school athlete whose presence stirred protests is accused of sexual harassment

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West Virginia high school track athlete Adaleia Cross is joining a national Title IX lawsuit after alleging a transgender 13-year-old teammate sexually harassed her during practices and in the school’s locker room.

B.P.J., which is how court documents refer to the transgender athlete at the center of the allegations and another West Virginia lawsuit, allegedly made “several offensive and inappropriate sexual comments” to Cross throughout the school shot put season. The interactions allegedly escalated to more “aggressive, vile, and disturbing” comments during Cross’s final year of middle school. B.P.J is a biological male who identifies as a female.

“During the end of that year, about two to three times per week, B.P.J. would look at me” and make a sexually explicit vulgar comment, Cross alleged in the lawsuit filed May 8. “There were usually other girls around who heard this. I heard B.P.J. say the same thing to my other teammates, too.”

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Trans athlete “B.P.J.” with a blurred face shown on a track. (ACLU)

Cross alleged additional “vulgar comments” caused deep distress and affected her ability to continue to participate in track and field.

“B.P.J. made other more explicit sexual statements that felt threatening to me. At times, B.P.J.” would make remarks suggesting a desire to carry out sexual assault, according to the lawsuit.

“I felt confused and disgusted when I heard these vulgar and aggressive comments,” Cross alleged. “It was especially confusing because I was told that B.P.J. was on the girls’ team because B.P.J. identifies as a girl, but the girls on the team never talked like that.”

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Cross then alleged she would report the comments to her school’s administrators, but “B.P.J. got very little or no punishment for saying things that no other student would get away with.”

Even though Cross, who is 15 years old, started high school last fall, she still interacts with B.P.J. because the middle and high school share the same track and overlapping practice times. This fall, B.P.J. will enter high school, and Cross said she “dreads being on the same sports team again.”

“I am reluctant to keep competing on a team that exposes me to these inappropriate comments. I’m also reluctant to continue in track and field if I have to compete against boys. I’m unable to fully enjoy sports in this environment,” Cross said.

left split: hand holding gavel; right split: girl track athletes with faces blurred

Earlier this month, five West Virginia middle school girls were banned from participating in track and field meets after they protested against B.P.J. and the court’s refusal to enforce the state’s “Save Women’s Sports Act.” (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Cross noted that B.P.J.’s athletic performance steadily advanced throughout middle school. In 2023, B.P.J. outperformed Cross and secured a spot in the Mid Mountain 10 Middle School Championships, a track meet in which only the top three athletes from each team can compete. B.P.J. qualified for the meet, knocking Cross out of one of the top three positions. 

“If I complained, I would be unfairly labeled as ‘transphobic,’ even though that is not true. It felt unfair. I felt like I had to suck it up and live with it. I felt unheard and unseen,” Cross said in the lawsuit.

B.P.J. is now connected to the legal proceedings of State of Tennessee v. Cardona, filed in the Northern District of Kentucky. West Virginia was part of the original group of six states filing as plaintiffs in the case against Biden’s Title IX revisions.

In April, new regulations for Title IX were ushered in by President Biden’s Department of Education that would protect gender identity from discrimination, while rolling back Trump-era rules that bolstered the rights of those accused of sexual misconduct. 

Adaleia Cross (middle) at the Harrison County Middle School Championships held at Liberty High School’s Mazzei Reaser Athletic Complex in Clarksburg, W.V, on April 12, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom)

Adaleia Cross (middle) at the Harrison County Middle School Championships at Liberty High School’s Mazzei Reaser Athletic Complex in Clarksburg, W.Va., April 12, 2023.  (Alliance Defending Freedom)

Heritage Foundation legal fellow Sarah Marshall Perry told Fox News Digital in an interview Cross’s lawsuit expands the number of individuals, organizations and states challenging Title IX. 

“We know it hasn’t even been published officially in the Federal Register, and yet it’s already raised the ire of more than 17 school districts, one school board, seven organizations, two individual plaintiffs and 26 states, and is some of the most significant federal litigation in terms of depth and swiftness of filing that I have ever seen in my two and a half decades of legal practice,” Perry said.

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split: right: President Biden; left: gender inclusive bathroom sign

Moms for Liberty and other parent groups blasted President Biden’s overhaul of Title IX, arguing it gutted parents’ rights and put children in harm’s way. (Getty Images)

“It is not only unconstitutional, it’s a violation of administrative law and the Civil Rights law that we are seeing claims based on everything from a violation of the First Amendment to sexual harassment, as is Cross’s claim, to violation of religious liberty to violation of the Administrative Procedure Act,” Perry continued.

“So, it is an encouraging development, and I don’t believe it will be the last two that we see here in the middle of May.”

Earlier this month, five West Virginia middle school girls were banned from participating in track and field meets after they protested against B.P.J. and the court’s refusal to enforce the state’s “Save Women’s Sports Act.” But they were given the ability to compete again after Judge Thomas A. Bedell issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the Harrison Board of Education and its schools from penalizing student-athletes for their speech

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The school board denied allegations of retaliation against the students and instead asserted the students were allowed to protest without hindrance and with full awareness and permission from coaches and the principal.

Fox News Digital’s Julia Johnson contributed to this report. 



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