Federal judge halts Indiana's transgender girls sports ban | | victoriaadvocate.com

2022-07-27 01:43:16 By : Mr. XianQing Liu

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A few clouds. Low 76F. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph.

The U.S. District Courthouse for the Southern District of Indiana is located in downtown Indianapolis.

The U.S. District Courthouse for the Southern District of Indiana is located in downtown Indianapolis.

A new Indiana law barring transgender girls from participating in girls athletics or sports teams at all public and private elementary, middle and high schools in the state runs afoul of federal law, a federal judge ruled.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson issued a preliminary injunction authorizing a 10-year-old Indianapolis girl identified as A.M., who was assigned male at birth but has lived as a girl since age 4, to continue playing on her elementary school's girls softball team when A.M. begins fifth grade in the fall.

The judge said there's no question House Enrolled Act 1041 violates a federal law, known as Title IX, that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, which federal courts serving Indiana consistently have ruled includes transgender status.

Applying legal precedent to the facts of this case "leads to a result that is not even a close call," Magnus-Stinson said in her 28-page ruling.

"The harm the state suggests could occur — that biological girls will be forced to compete against transgender girls who allegedly have an athletic advantage — is speculative, and there is no evidence in the record that allowing A.M. to play on the girls' softball team will make this harm a reality," the judge said.

"Indeed, A.M. played on the girls' softball team last season, and the state has not set forth any evidence that this harmed anyone. There is no evidence that other players complained about A.M. being on the team due to an athletic advantage, or that she actually has an athletic advantage."

The judge's decision, for now, applies only to A.M., who sued Indianapolis Public Schools seeking to continue playing softball with her friends — in part as a means of combating her gender dysphoria.

But the Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on A.M.'s behalf, said it stands ready to assist any similarly situated transgender girl interested in participating in girls student athletics across the Hoosier State.

"When misinformation about biology and gender is used to bar transgender girls from school sports it amounts to the same form of sex discrimination that has long been prohibited under Title IX, a law that protects all students — including trans people — on the basis of sex," said Ken Falk, Indiana ACLU legal director.

"We are pleased that Judge Magnus-Stinson has recognized this and required that A.M. be allowed to play on her school’s softball team. If other students are being denied the right to join a sports team at their school due to their transgender status, we encourage them to contact the ACLU of Indiana immediately," Falk added.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican originally from Munster, is planning to ask the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court, to consider affirming the validity of Indiana's trans sports ban.

"We are fighting for Hoosier common sense and the rule of law wherever they come under challenge," Rokita said. "And we will continue doing the work that the people of Indiana elected us to do."

The Republican-controlled General Assembly enacted into law House Enrolled Act 1041 on May 24, overriding a March 21 veto by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The new statute easily was approved by a 67-28 margin in the House, and 32-15 in the Senate. All Northwest Indiana Republican lawmakers supported the measure, except state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, who joined all Region Democrats, except state Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, in opposing it.

Under the law, trans girls who were assigned male at birth are barred from playing on a girls athletics team in kindergarten through 12th grade, regardless of their physical characteristics or gender identity, and the parents of girls who believe their child was deprived of an athletics opportunity because of a trans girl's participation are authorized to sue their school for monetary damages.

State Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland, the sponsor of the legislation, said during House debate it ensures "a fair and equal opportunity to compete for Hoosier girls."

"Today, we voted for fairness, opportunity and safety. This issue stems from Hoosier parents like me who are concerned about our female athletes, and their opportunities to compete, earn top spots and obtain scholarships. This law is a commonsense approach to protect and preserve the integrity of girls' sports," Davis said.

There currently are zero trans girls participating in girls high school sports in Indiana. The new law does not apply to women's college or professional athletics, nor does it prevent trans boys from playing on boys sports teams, which Magnus-Stinson said also is an unlawful form of discrimination under federal law.

Holcomb said those facts, along with the Indiana High School Athletic Association already having strict rules in place to ensure fair competition in school sports, were among the provisions that prompted his veto.

"The presumption of the policy laid out in House Enrolled Act 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention. It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met. After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal," Holcomb said.

The owner of a lion, tiger, leopard, snow leopard, jaguar, mountain lion or bear must prevent all direct physical contact between the animal and a member of the general public, no matter the age of the animal. Violations are subject to a $1,000 fine for each person who comes into contact with the animal. (House Enrolled Act 1248)

The owner of a lion, tiger, leopard, snow leopard, jaguar, mountain lion or bear must prevent all direct physical contact between the animal and a member of the general public, no matter the age of the animal. Violations are subject to a $1,000 fine for each person who comes into contact with the animal. (House Enrolled Act 1248)

The Aberdeen subdivision may seek to officially become part of Valparaiso, even though the neighborhood is not currently contiguous to the city. A pre-annexation financial study must be completed so Aberdeen residents know the fiscal impact of being voluntarily annexed by Valparaiso. (House Enrolled Act 1110)

Counties, cities or towns can designate agricultural zones as Economic Revitalization Areas (ERA) on the same basis as outdated business districts or distressed residential neighborhoods. New farm equipment or new agricultural improvements located in an ERA are eligible for a property tax abatement for up to five years. The exemption does not apply to farmland. (Senate Enrolled Act 119)

The Indiana Department of Health is authorized to establish and promote a bone marrow donor recruitment program to find eligible Hoosiers willing to donate bone marrow to individuals fighting leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cell conditions. (Senate Enrolled Act 398)

State colleges and universities cannot designate outdoor areas of campus where First Amendment activities are prohibited. Higher education institutions may impose reasonable and content-neutral time, place and manner restrictions on other campus speech that's narrowly tailored to serve a significant interest of the school. (House Enrolled Act 1190)

An adult relative caring for a child after the child has been removed from a dangerous home situation is entitled to directly participate in court hearings concerning services needed by the child, or terminating the parent-child relationship. Previously, only state-licensed foster parents had a statutory right to intervene in legal proceedings pertaining to abused or neglected children. (Senate Enrolled Act 410)

A catalytic converter is redefined as a "major component part" of a motor vehicle and only licensed automobile salvage recyclers are permitted to buy or sell used catalytic converters. Automobile salvage recyclers also must keep the same records for catalytic converters as valuable metal dealers and cash payouts for detached catalytic converters are capped at $25 per transaction per day. (Senate Enrolled Act 293)

A new crime of "coerced abortion" punishes anyone who knowingly or intentionally coerces a pregnant woman to have an abortion with up to 2 1/2 years in prison. State law already required "the voluntary and informed consent of the pregnant woman" prior to obtaining an abortion. (House Enrolled Act 1217)

Businesses, banks and similar entities that suffer a data breach must notify their customers within 45 days of the breach being discovered, instead of simply providing notification "without unreasonable delay." (House Enrolled Act 1351)

Home health aides who provide care to individuals with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or a similar cognitive disorder must complete at least six hours of dementia care training within 60 days of hire. Current home health aides with at least one year of experience must participate in at least three hours of dementia training. (Senate Enrolled Act 353)

Individuals charged with crimes who either are acquitted following a trial or the charges are dismissed will have their court records automatically expunged within 60 days of disposition, unless the county prosecutor requests a one-year expungement delay. Any non-prosecution of criminal charges within 180 days following an arrest must be expunged immediately. (Senate Enrolled Act 182)

Foreign business entities are barred from purchasing Indiana agricultural or timber land, with certain exceptions. Businesses organized under Russian law or controlled by Russian nationals are prohibited from acquiring any real estate in Indiana. (Senate Enrolled Act 388)

The Indiana Department of Health no longer is entitled to remove a local health officer on the basis of intemperance. Health officers still may be removed for failing to collect vital statistics, follow rules, keep records, make reports, respond to official inquires or for neglect of official duty. (House Enrolled Act 1169)

Adults age 18 and up legally entitled to possess a handgun are not obligated to obtain a state permit to carry a handgun in public. Indiana carry permits remain available for out-of-state reciprocity purposes. Handguns continue to be prohibited in schools, courthouses, and any residence or business that chooses to bar handguns. (House Enrolled Act 1296)

A 13-member Housing Task Force is directed to study issues relating to housing and housing shortages in Indiana. The task force must  submit recommendations for policy changes to the General Assembly and the governor no later than Nov. 1. (House Enrolled Act 1306)

The holder of an archery hunting permit is allowed to use a bow and arrow or a crossbow. Previously, crossbow hunters were required to obtain a separate license. (Senate Enrolled Act 186)

The in-state rate for telephone calls placed by inmates at Indiana Department of Correction facilities drops to 12 cents per minute from 24 cents per minute. County jail telephone rates are capped at 21 cents per minute statewide, instead of ranging from 22 cents per minute to $4.70 per minute.  (House Enrolled Act 1181)

Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, doctors must offer a blood lead screening test to the parents of children between nine months and six years old if the child has not previously been tested for lead poisoning. Parents are not required to have their children tested for lead. (House Enrolled Act 1313)

Judges once again may sentence level 6 felony offenders to state prisons operated by the Indiana Department of Correction, replacing a mandate that individuals found guilty of minor felony crimes only serve their six-month to 2 1/2-year sentences in county jails. (House Enrolled Act 1004)

The town of Lowell is authorized to segregate its recent water utility sale proceeds from other town funds, contract with an investment adviser, and deploy the funds in most kinds of investments offering higher returns than fixed-income securities, except corporate stock and other equity securities. (House Enrolled Act 1011)

Pregnant individuals whose family incomes are less than 208% of the federal poverty level are entitled to receive low- or no-cost health coverage through Indiana Medicaid for the duration of their pregnancy, and up to 12 months after giving birth. (House Enrolled Act 1140)

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is directed to adopt rules by July 1, 2023, permitting small modular nuclear reactors to be used to generate electricity in the Hoosier State. The law does not mandate any utilities switch to nuclear power but opens the door by putting in place the regulations that would guide its development and use. (Senate Enrolled Act 271)

Restraints used on a prison inmate in her second or third trimester of pregnancy need to be the least restrictive restraints necessary. A pregnant inmate must be unrestrained while in labor, delivering a baby and during the immediate post-delivery period, unless she is an immediate danger to herself or others, or a substantial flight risk. (House Enrolled Act 1294)

The $3,000 property tax deduction for mortgaged property is eliminated beginning Jan. 1, 2023, and the homestead deduction is increased to $48,000 from $45,000. The senior citizen tax deduction may be claimed on homes worth up to $240,000, instead of a maximum of $200,000. (House Enrolled Act 1260)

School boards must allow any person physically present at a school board meeting to address the board if the person is interested in doing so in accordance with the board’s public comment rules, including any time limits. Boards still can take "reasonable steps to maintain order in a meeting," including "removal of any person who is willfully disruptive of the meeting." (House Enrolled Act 1130)

The definition of rape is expanded to include a person who disregards the other person's attempts to physically, verbally, or by other visible conduct refuse the person's sexual acts. Rape in Indiana also consists of the use of force, or imminent threat of force, to compel sexual conduct; sex with a person unaware sexual conduct is occurring; or sex with a person unable to consent to sex due to mental disability. (House Enrolled Act 1079)

A 23-member commission is established to organize events and commemorations across the state celebrating the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 2026. (Senate Enrolled Act 12)

The production, distribution, possession or viewing of a video or image depicting obscene sexual conduct involving a person who appears to be less than 18 years old — even if the person is over 18, or doesn’t exist — is the legal equivalent of child exploitation, possession of child pornography and similar felony crimes. (House Enrolled Act 1363)

The mastodon is designated as the official fossil of Indiana. Dozens of mastodon fossils have been found throughout Indiana, including the bones of at least five mastodons now held by the Indiana State Museum that were discovered in 2005 by workers digging a pond in the Porter County town of Hebron. (House Enrolled Act 1013)

The utility receipts tax, a 1.46% charge paid by businesses and consumers on a portion of their electricity, natural gas, water, steam, sewage and telephone bills, is eliminated July 1. Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, the state income tax rate drops to 3.15% from 3.23%, with the possibility of future reductions to 2.9%. (House Enrolled Act 1002)

The definition of "agritourism" is expanded beyond agricultural activities to include camping, canoeing, kayaking, river tubing and winter sports activities. An agritourism participant release form may be signed electronically, instead of only on paper. (Senate Enrolled Act 343)

A township trustee who fails to perform the duties of his or her office is subject to removal by court order if the removal is endorsed by the township board, county commissioners and county council, and other conditions are met. (Senate Enrolled Act 304)

All children assigned male at birth are barred from participating in any elementary, middle or high school athletics designated as a "girls" or "female" sport — no matter the child's gender identity or physical characteristics. (House Enrolled Act 1041)

A police officer employed by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi in South Bend may exercise law enforcement authority anywhere in the state, so long as the officer meets the standards of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and the tribe consents to statewide police powers. (Senate Enrolled Act 347)

A mandate that drivers signal all turns or lane changes at least 200 feet ahead of time, or 300 feet if the vehicle is traveling in excess of 50 mph, is deleted on Jan. 1, 2023, in favor of a requirement that motorists signal all turns and lane changes "a reasonable time" before completing them. (House Enrolled Act 1167)

Public and private colleges and universities in Indiana must report to the state, and disclose on their website, all gifts from foreign entities that already must be reported to the federal government upon receipt. (Senate Enrolled Act 388)

A tax of 15% is imposed on the wholesale price of closed system cartridges used for vaping. Under a 2021 law, the tax rate was scheduled to be 25%. An additional tax of 40 cents per ounce is assessed on alternative nicotine products, such as electronic cigarettes. (Senate Enrolled Act 382)

A public school or school corporation may purchase up to $10,000 in food each year from a youth agricultural program, up from the former annual maximum of $7,500. (House Enrolled Act 1320)

Originally published on nwitimes.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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