Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed an appeal in federal court this week to stop a 10-year-old transgender girl from playing softball at her Indianapolis elementary school. The action is part of an ongoing legal fight over a new state law that bans transgender girls from participating in girls athletics at schools.
Earlier this summer, a U.S. District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the girl and her mother. The ruling prevents the Indianapolis Public Schools district, where the girl is enrolled, from enforcing the new state law.
The fight stems from 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. The lawsuit argues that blocking A.M. and other transgender girls from girls sports is a violation of Title IX.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights expanded its sex protections in Title IX to include sexual orientation and gender identity for LGBTQI+ students.
Now, Rokita is asking the court to reverse that decision. He argues Title IX does not protect gender identity, rather it prohibits discrimination and denial of equal opportunities on the basis of a person’s sex at birth.
“This Court should not adopt a theory that turns Title IX on its head,” the brief states.
Rokita also counters the two decisions the preliminary injunction was based on were not interpreted correctly. Both rulings – Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District No. 1 Board of Education – extended the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex to transgender and queer identities.
“Neither decision addresses sex-segregated sports under Title IX. And neither can be extended to sports—a context in which enduring physiological differences between men and women impact fairness and girls’ safety—without jeopardizing the foundation for women’s progress in sports,” reads the appeal.
The ACLU of Indiana declined to comment. Indianapolis Public Schools did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this year, the Indiana General Assembly passed the transgender girls athletes ban. Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed it because it did not provide “clarity and one consistent state policy regarding the fairness in K-12 sports in Indiana.” In May, a majority of lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto of HEA 1041.