Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Transgender girls go to court over Arizona school sports ban

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PHOENIX (AP) — The parents of two transgender girls in Arizona filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a year-old state law banning trans girls from participating in school sports. Attorneys for the families, whose names are concealed in court documents out of fear for their childrens’ safety, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Tucson.

The plaintiffs include an 11-year-old who wants to play girls’ soccer, basketball and cross-country, and a 15-year-old volleyball player. In court filings, they are going by the names Jane Doe and Megan Roe. “Jane knows this would be because she is transgender, and I worry about how that will affect her self-esteem and her confidence,” her mother said in a statement. “The ban’s exclusion of plaintiffs from participating in school sports because they are transgender denies them equal treatment under the law,” attorneys wrote in the 21-page complaint.

The attorneys also argued the law violates the Equal Protection Clause under the U.S. Constitution and Title IX. “It cannot survive constitutional scrutiny and it endangers transgender children,” attorney Justin Rassi said in a news release.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, who is a defendant in the challenge, called the lawsuit’s logic “backwards.” It’s about fairness, he added. “Title IX was aimed at giving girls equal opportunities for playing sports. When a biological boy plays in a girls’ sport, it disadvantages the girls,” Horne told The Associated Press. “There have been lots of news stories about girls who worked hard to excel at their sports, found they could not when they had to compete against biological boys and were devastated by that.”

Horne said he will contact the office of the Arizona Attorney General about next steps in response to the suit.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association, the Kyrene School District in Tempe and The Gregory School in Tucson are also named as defendants. A spokesperson from each did not immediately return email requests for comment.

In March 2022, then-Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed off on limiting trans girls from participating in school sports alongside cisgender girls. The issue became front and center in Republican-led statehouses since Idaho lawmakers passed the nation’s first sports participation law in 2020. Prior to that, no state had ever passed a law regulating gender-designated youth sports.

On Tuesday, a similar law was advancing in the North Carolina Senate that would prohibit transgender girls from participating in sports that correspond with their gender identity. The proposal is among the first to advance through committee after Republicans returned from spring recess this week with newly veto-proof margins.

The legislation would designate middle and high school sports by biological sex, determined by what it called “reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” Sponsors promoted the bill as a necessary precaution to protect cisgender girls. But they did not offer an explanation for how the restrictions would be enforced.

LGBTQ+ rights advocates say these GOP-backed bills, and hundreds more across the U.S., are anti-trans attacks disguised as protections for children, and that they use trans people as political pawns to galvanize GOP voters ahead of an election year.

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