Indiana AG Todd Rokita files appeal on injunction of transgender sports ban law

Caroline Beck – Indianapolis Star

TAG: House Bill 1024

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced on Thursday that he filed an appeal of a district court’s preliminary injunction that blocked enforcement of Indiana’s transgender sports ban.

Rokita filed his appeal on Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit saying that House Bill 1041 does not violate Title IX protections, which he says only mentions protections of “sex” and not “gender identity.”

“And in prohibiting ‘discrimination’ and exclusion from activities on the ‘basis of sex,’ Congress did not require schools to blind themselves to sex-based differences that affect athletic performance and safety,” reads the appeal.

U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Indiana Jane Magnus-Stinson issued the preliminary injunction in July which allowed a 10-year-old girl at the heart of the legal challenge against a state ban targeting transgender athletes to rejoin her softball team.

The lawsuit claimed a new Indiana law banning transgender students from participating in all-female school sports amounts to discrimination under federal law guaranteeing equal access to education and educational programs. The law took effect July 1.

Rokita said in an emailed statement that allowing transgender athletes to compete alongside cis-gender female student-athletes is an “assault on girls’ equality of opportunity and even their physical safety.”

“Males possess certain physiological advantages that make them faster and stronger,” Rokita said. “And it’s unconscionable to ignore these scientific realities. The Left must stop sacrificing women’s well-being on the altar of transgender woke-ism.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is who filed the original lawsuit against the Indianapolis Public School district which is where the 10-year-old’s softball team is located.

The ACLU of Indiana declined IndyStar’s request for comment on Thursday.

The plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit under her initials A.M., began identifying as a girl before she was four years old, according to Magnus-Stinson’s order. Her birth-assigned sex was male, Magnus-Stinson wrote, but in 2021 a state court changed the gender marker on her birth certificate to female.

The judge’s order only applies to the case of the 10-year-old.

The law was passed by both chambers in the state legislature earlier this year. Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland, wrote the bill that became law. On the Statehouse floor, she said it was written to “maintain fair competition in girls’ sports now and in the future.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed the bill in March. He said it attempted to target a problem that doesn’t exist in Indiana.

“It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met,” Holcomb wrote in a letter explaining his veto. “After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal.”

Both the state House and Senate overrode Holcomb’s veto in May, clearing the way for the law to take effect in July.

Advocates for the LGBTQ community have criticized the law, saying it is discriminatory and could further marginalize an already-vulnerable population of children who want to fit in and play sports with their friends.

IndyStar reporter Johnny Magdaleno contributed to this reporting.