BLOOMINGTON — On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled, in a preliminary injunction, that Indianapolis Public Schools must allow a 10-year-old transgender girl to play on a girls' softball team pending further litigation. It challenges a state law, HEA 1041, which bans transgender girls from participating on K-12 girls' sports teams.
"Basically, the judge said it would make more sense to allow this student to participate in athletics while we dig deeper and the case continues," Steve Sanders, an IU Constitutional Law Professor, said. Some of Sanders' work focuses on equal protection afforded to LGBTQ people by the Constitution. That's why he's been following this case closely.
"There is statutory law, Title IX, that prohibits sex and gender discrimination. I expect that's the way most federal courts are going to see this issue," Sanders said.
Back in May, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 10-year-old transgender girl in Indianapolis. Her family was told by IPS that she would not be allowed to play on her school's girls' softball team if Indiana's transgender girl sports ban bill went into effect.
The preliminary injunction filed by a federal judge applies to this one student in Indianapolis. However, it's being closely watched by other families in similar situations.
"I felt relief. I felt happiness mixed with a little anger it's coming up again," Beth Clawson, the mother of a transgender daughter, said.
The Clawson family has been very open about their trans daughter's experience. The reason? They want people to learn more about what it means to be transgender."
"No one is trying to take anything away from anybody. We're just trying to make a more inclusive space for children. We're talking about children," Clawson said. "Hopefully, the case can be expanded to other families. I do fear the waiting because it seems the attorney general doesn't mind jumping in on cases lately."
"Now, it could be that in light of this decision, other school districts will simply look the other way and not make an issue of it," Sanders said. "It seems as though IPS didn't care one way or another, it was the state that decided to intervene. The question is, will the AG's office stand down for now and allows trans girls in other schools to continue to participate while the case works its way through the courts."
Indianapolis Public Schools says it will comply with the injunction and support all students. Attorney General Todd Rokita said on Twitter the law is still in effect and his office will continue to defend it.
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