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IPS must allow trans girl to play on girls' softball team pending further litigation, judge says

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Posted at 1:05 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 23:19:21-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge has ruled that Indianapolis Public Schools must allow a 10-year-old transgender girl to play on a girls' softball team pending further litigation, challenging a state law that bans transgender girls from participating on K-12 girls' sports teams.

The preliminary injunction was issued Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson. It prevents IPS from enforcing House Enrolled Act 1041, which went into effect July 1, as litigation continues.

It was spurred by a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of the girl, identified in court documents by the initials A.M., and her mother. It says preventing A.M. and other transgender girls from participating in girls' athletics violates Title IX and is discriminatory on the basis of transgender status and sex.

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The lawsuit says A.M.'s school, which is within the Indianapolis Public School system, told A.M. that she wouldn't be able to play softball this year because of HEA 1041. A.M's birth certificate gender marker was changed to female and she is on puberty blockers.

The injunction notes A.M. "has a likelihood of succeeding on the merits of her claim that (HEA 1041) violates Title IX."

"A.M.'s challenge to the lawfulness of (HEA 1041) raises controversial issues regarding the boundaries of Title IX and whether and how those boundaries should stretch and shift in an ever-changing world. But 'the limits of the drafters' imagination supply no reason to ignore the law's demand. When the express terms of a statute give us one answer and extratextual considerations suggest another, it's no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit,'" Magnus-Stinson wrote in her findings.

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The ACLU of Indiana shared the following statement after the preliminary injunction was issued:

"When misinformation about biology and gender is used to bar transgender girls from school sports it amounts to the same form of sex discrimination that has long been prohibited under Title IX, a law that protects all students – including trans people – on the basis of sex.

"We are pleased that Judge Magnus-Stinson has recognized this and required that A.M. be allowed to play on her school’s softball team.

“If other students are being denied the right to join a sports team at their school due to their transgender status, we encourage them to contact the ACLU of Indiana immediately."

A spokesperson or IPS provided the following statement on the district's behalf:

“IPS will comply with the injunction as it does all other laws and court orders. We will continue to support our students, including our transgender students, with the same care and attention we’ve demonstrated prior to the passage of HB 1041 and the filing of the current lawsuit.”

In May, state lawmakers voted to override Gov. Eric Holcomb's veto of HEA 1041. The Indiana House voted 67-28 to override the veto and the Senate voted 32-15.