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ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Indiana Transgender Sports Ban

— May 24, 2022

The A.C.L.U.-led lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 10-year-old transgender girl who has been told she would no longer be allowed to play softball with her classmates.

The Indiana General Assembly has passed a ban on transgender girls’ participation in girls school sports, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit against the measure.

According to The Indianapolis Star, the General Assembly passed the statute even after the state’s Republican governor vetoed it.

Now, the A.C.L.U. of Indiana is suing Indianapolis Public Schools on behalf of a 10-year-old transgender girl who will no longer be allowed to play softball on her school’s gender-segregated softball team.

The Star notes that Indianapolis Public Schools is named as a defendant in the complaint because, under the recently passed act, it must implement and follow the law.

A.C.L.U. attorneys say that the child has already been informed she will no longer be allowed to continue playing softball on her school’s girls-only team once the law takes effect in July.

The plaintiff, identified only by the initials A.M., says that playing softball helped improve her mental health as a child.

By participating in girls sports, A.M. said she was better able to experience life as a girl.

“When she joined the softball team last fall, it helped her come out of her shell,” A.M.’s mother said in a statement released by the A.C.L.U. “I watched as she bloomed and felt more at ease in her skin.”

Trans rights = civil rights; image by Women's eNews, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.
Trans rights = civil rights; image by Women’s eNews, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.

When A.M. heard about the General Assembly’s plans to ban transgender girls like her from playing sports, she felt hurt and angry.

A.M.’s mother said that the lawsuit is a way for her daughter to stand up for the rights of other children like her.

“She wants to stand up for girls like her, as well as herself, because she knows how upset they are right now,” A.M.’s mother said. “She wanted me to share that ‘We can’t expect kids to say the Pledge of Allegiance and Liberty and Justice for All while not giving liberty and justice to all.”

A spokesperson for Indianapolis Public Schools said that the district itself is opposed to the measure and agrees with Gov. Holcomb that H.B. 1041 “does not provide a clear and consistent policy to ensure fairness in the state’s K-12 sports.”

“IPS has consistently advocated for creating school communities that embrace and support all students, including our transgender and non-binary students,” the district said in a statement. “We oppose H.B. 1041 as an unnecessary restriction on our ability to provide fair and equitable access to athletics for all of our students.”

The A.C.L.U., for its part, alleges that H.B. 1041 is a form of gender discrimination illegal under Title IX.

Advocates of the measure say that transgender girls have an unfair advantage when playing alongside biological females, and that the ban helps ensure that biological girls compete only against other biological girls.

Several states have enacted similar bans, partially in response to a wave of young transgender athletes repeatedly winning girls’ sporting events by unusual margins.


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