Indiana AG pushes for enforcement of law banning transgender students from girls sports

(The Center Square) – Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has filed a brief in federal court hoping to secure enforcement of a law banning transgender children from girls sports teams in the state.

The action came in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a 10-year-old transgender girl who will be banned from playing school softball when the law takes effect July 1.

The law stipulates any school or association, public or private, sanctioning interscholastic sporting events in Indiana must designate each team as a boys, girls or coeducational team, and that no person assigned the biological sex “male” at birth may participate on a girls team.

The law does not prohibit girls from participating on boys teams.

Rokita called the law “common sense,” adding, “Biological males have certain physiological advantages that make it unfair to allow them to compete for spots on girls’ sports teams. The law passed by the Indiana General Assembly simply acknowledges that science and protects the integrity of girls’ sports in K-12 schools.”

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the child’s family, holds there is no unfairness in this case because the child in question has identified herself as a girl since age 4 and has been given puberty-blocking medications that prevent the growth in height and muscle mass that would be typical for a biological male.

Both sides claim the protection of Title IX, the 1972 federal statute authored by then Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh that prohibits the exclusion from participation on the basis of sex in a sport in any school receiving federal funding.

The plaintiff’s claim is transgender girls should be protected from discrimination under the federal statute. Rokita’s motions holds that the word “sex” in Title IX refers to biological sex and not to gender, which is a “subjective sense of self.”

Up to 0.6% of teens and adults in Indiana identify themselves as transgender, the ACLU motion stated. The Williams Institute at UCLA states that 1.4% of American teens age 13 to 17 are transgender.

Gov. Eric Holcomb had vetoed HEA 1041 shortly after its passage in March on the grounds it was likely to cause rather than avoid further controversy due to a lack of clarity in the grievance process outlined in the bill. Holcomb also noted similar laws in other states had been overturned in the courts, and he saw no evidence of current unfairness to Indiana children participating in scholastic sports.

The General Assembly overrode the veto May 24. Attorneys for the ACLU filed their lawsuit later that day.