Attorney General Bonta Files Brief in Support of Trans Rights, Ability of Elementary Students to Play School Sports

Friday, November 11, 2022
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OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in A.M. v. Indianapolis Public Schools in support of the ability of transgender students to participate in school sports. In the amicus brief, the coalition pushes back on efforts to prohibit a 10-year-old transgender girl in Indiana from playing on her elementary school’s girls’ softball team, highlights the pervasive harms caused by transgender discrimination, and urges the appellate court to uphold the trial court’s decision.

“Ten-year-olds deserve to be allowed to play softball,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Legislation that targets transgender children to prevent them from participating in school activities consistent with their gender is discriminatory, unlawful, and deeply appalling. It’s part of a nationwide attack on the rights of our LGBTQ+ communities. It’s unacceptable and we’re fighting back.”

The case, which is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, centers around Indiana’s efforts to implement a new, discriminatory law targeting the ability of transgender women and girls to play school sports. The statute singles out transgender women and girls by categorically barring them from participating in sex-segregated sports consistent with their gender identity. Indiana’s new law is part of a recent, dangerous wave of discriminatory legislation signed into law in states across the country that bans transgender youth from playing sports, blocks access to life-saving care, or otherwise limits the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Shortly after the law — Indiana Code Section 20-33-13-4 — went into effect in Indiana on July 1, 2022, it was preliminarily blocked as likely violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The district court ruled that the plaintiff was likely to succeed on the merits as the appellate court had already previously held that discrimination against a person on the basis of their transgender status constitutes unlawful discrimination. Nevertheless, Indiana filed an appeal and continues to seek to exclude and stigmatize transgender girls. In contrast to Indiana, California and numerous other states have long had protections in place to ensure transgender students at K-12 schools are able to have equal access to school programs and activities — including school sports — in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity.

In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts:

  • Transgender youth face pervasive and harmful discrimination that causes them serious health and academic harms;
  • Protecting transgender students from discrimination yields broad benefits for those students, the school learning environment, and society;
  • Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause prohibit the gender identity discrimination identified in this case; and
  • The appellate court should affirm the district court’s decision.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ+ Americans in California and across the nation. Last month, the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in support of transgender individuals who had been unlawfully denied coverage for gender-affirming care. In February, Attorney General Bonta continued California’s defense of antidiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ residents of retirement communities, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities across the state. Earlier this year, he led a coalition of 21 attorneys general in support of a challenge to an Arkansas law attempting to prohibit healthcare professionals from providing transgender individuals with medically necessary care. Last year, he joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general in support of a lawsuit against a school board in Florida over a policy barring transgender students from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. The Attorney General also filed a legal brief in support of the ability of transgender students to participate in school sports in Connecticut and led a coalition of 15 attorneys general in defense of the right of transgender Alabamians to obtain driver’s licenses that correspond with their gender identity.

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of New York, Hawaii, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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