- Last year, Arizona Republicans passed a law banning transgender girls from competing on female school athletic teams.
- A lawsuit filed by two transgender girls argues that the new state laws violate federal Title IX.
- While the lawsuit is pending, a judge has placed a temporary block on the Arizona law.
A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked Arizona from enforcing a law that would have banned transgender girls from playing on school sports teams.
A judge in Tucson granted a preliminary injunction to allow a lawsuit filed by two transgender girls against the state’s “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature last year.
The lawsuit argues that the law violates federal Title IX, the law preventing sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funds, and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horn, who is a defendant in the case, said the decision will be appealed.
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“It will be ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court, and they will rule in our favor,” Horn said in a statement.
Arizona is one of several states and some school districts that have passed laws limiting access to school sports teams or to students based on the sex assigned at birth rather than their gender identity.
The Arizona plaintiffs include a 15-year-old volleyball player and an 11-year-old who wants to play girls soccer, basketball and cross country. In court filings, they are named as Jane Doe and Megan Rowe.
The parents of the two children said they were happy with the court’s decision.
“We’re glad the judge looked past the misconceptions and hurtful statements used to demonize transgender people. Our daughter looks forward to making new friends and playing the sport she loves,” Jane Doe’s parents said in a statement to the National Center for Gay Rights, which is helping to represent her.
Arizona officials have said the law passes federal muster because it aims to be fair.
“Title IX was meant to give girls equal opportunities to play sports. When a biological boy plays in a girls’ sport, it hurts girls,” Horne told The Associated Press when the lawsuit was filed in April. “There are many stories of girls who worked hard to excel in their sports, found they couldn’t when they had to compete with biological boys and were devastated by it.”
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In issuing the preliminary injunction, however, Judge Jennifer G. Zipes said there was no evidence that allowing children diagnosed with gender dysphoria at puberty to play on girls’ teams would provide an athletic benefit or pose a safety risk to other players.
Rather, the judge said the children would suffer “severe and irreparable mental, physical and emotional harm if the Act applies to them because they cannot play on boys’ sports teams” which would be “hurtful and humiliating”.
“There is a consensus among medical organizations that gender identity is innate and cannot be changed through psychological or medical treatment”.
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“Plaintiff’s mental health depends on her living like a girl in all aspects of her life,” the judge wrote.
LGBTQ+ rights advocates say the bill passed in Arizona and hundreds across the U.S. are anti-transgender attacks disguised as child protections and use transgender people as political pawns to mobilize GOP voters ahead of an election year.
Courts have blocked some of the measures in several states, including last week in Wisconsin.