Attorney General Bonta Stands Up Against Legislation Targeting Transgender Youth in Sports

Thursday, October 12, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND  California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined a multistate amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of plaintiffs in Doe v. Horne, challenging Arizona’s recently-enacted legislation prohibiting transgender students from participating on women’s and girls’ school athletic teams. Arizona’s new law is part of a 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. In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts that Arizona’s law blocking plaintiffs from participating in their schools' all-girls' sports teams is discriminatory and violates the students’ fundamental rights. 

“No child should ever be excluded from participating in their school’s sports team for simply being who they are,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Legislation that targets transgender children to prevent them from participating in school activities consistent with their gender identity is discriminatory, unlawful, and deeply appalling. From fighting discriminatory school policies to defending gender-affirming care, my office will continue to stand up against efforts seeking to jeopardize the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.”

In April 2023, two transgender girls (aged 11 and 15) filed a lawsuit against the Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Arizona Interscholastic Association, and their local schools and school officials, arguing that the state’s refusal to allow them to participate on girls’ sports teams based on Arizona’s legislation violates their rights under the Equal Protection Clause, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. The district court ruled that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that discrimination on the basis of their transgender status constitutes unlawful discrimination. Nevertheless, Arizona state officials appealed the district court’s decision granting plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the law, allowing them to participate in their school’s sports team during the pendency of the case. In contrast to Arizona, 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 their amicus brief, the coalition supported the plaintiffs' lawsuit seeking to block the enforcement of Arizona’s anti-transgender legislation, arguing that the law:

  • Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. by targeting transgender girls and treating them less favorably than other girls because of their gender identity.
  • Violates Title IX by targeting plaintiffs as transgender girls and treating them less favorably than other girls based solely on their sex assigned at birth.
  • Fails to recognize how inclusive laws and policies — such as those in California — have benefited transgender individuals without negatively impacting opportunities for cisgender students.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ youth:

  • Recently, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition of 20 attorneys general in opposing a state law in Indiana that severely blocks the ability of transgender youth to access critical, lifesaving gender-affirming care.
  • In September, Attorney General Bonta issued guidance addressed to all California Superintendents and school board members reminding them that the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the San Bernardino Superior Court against Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s (Board) forced outing policy remained in full force and effect. The Superior Court’s ruling came after Attorney General Bonta in August announced a lawsuit challenging the enforcement of the Board’s forced outing policy. Prior to filing a lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta announced opening a civil rights investigation into the legality of the Board’s adoption of the policy. Prior to opening the investigation, Attorney General Bonta in July sent a letter to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education cautioning them of the dangers of adopting the forced outing policy, emphasizing the potential infringements on students' privacy rights and educational opportunities.
  • Attorney General Bonta has issued statements following Dry Creek Joint Elementary School DistrictRocklin Unified School DistrictAnderson Union High School District, and Temecula Valley and Murrieta Valley Unified School District Boards’ decision to implement copy-cat mandatory gender identity disclosure policies targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming students. 

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

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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