Judge: Transgender girl can rejoin school’s softball team

Posted at 6:56 PM, July 26, 2022 and last updated 3:34 PM, July 14, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Indianapolis Public Schools to allow a 10-year-old transgender girl to rejoin her school’s all-girls softball team while a lawsuit continues against a state law that bans transgender females from competing in girls school sports.

U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in Indianapolis issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday on behalf of the girl, finding that she “has established that she has a strong likelihood of succeeding on the merits” of her claim.

“She has also established that she would suffer irreparable harm for which there is no adequate legal remedy,” Magnus-Stinson wrote in her order of the girl, who will be a fifth-grader when classes resume in August.

Indianapolis Public School had told the girl’s mother earlier this year that her daughter would no longer be able to play on the girls’ softball team because of the new law, the judge added.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit on behalf of the girl in hopes of blocking the law. The suit was filed in May, minutes after Republican state lawmakers voted to override Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of the legislation, and alleges that preventing the girl from rejoining her team because she is transgender is violation of Title IX and the U.S. Constitution.

That lawsuit continues against the law, which took effect on July 1 and which opponents have argued is a bigoted response to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Republican sponsors of the bill maintain it is needed to protect the integrity of female sports and opportunities for girls to gain college athletic scholarships but have pointed to no instances in Indiana of girls being outperformed by transgender athletes.

ACLU of Indiana’s legal director, Ken Falk, said Tuesday in a statement that the group is pleased that the judge decided that the girl should “be allowed to play on her school’s softball team.”

“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,” Falk said.

Magnus-Stinson wrote in her order that Indianapolis Public Schools has taken “no position regarding whether the Court should issue a preliminary injunction,” but that the state has intervened and opposes the request for the preliminary injunction.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said following Tuesday’s ruling that the transgender sports law “remains in effect across the state” and said his office will continue defending it.

“The court’s ruling allows only this particular plaintiff to play this particular sport at this particular elementary school,” he said in a statement to WXIN-TV.