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“These are not the Olympics”: GOP transgender laws come to court

“Gavin’s case was influential and will continue to be influential outside of the 4th Ward,” said Josh Block, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ & HIV project.

Mississippi, Montana, Florida, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Alabama all signed restrictions on transgender athletes this year. Many of them put their laws forward, accusing President Joe Biden’s January ordinance, which was aimed at promoting the inclusion of transgender people. The White House made the change, arguing that a Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ rights in the workplace extends to a federal education law that bans gender discrimination.

The Supreme Court has now come across transgender bathroom cases twice since the landmark was built Bostock v Clayton County Verdict last summer – the decision Biden relies on. And two other districts have passed rulings similar to the 4th district, which say it is unconstitutional to prohibit transgender students from using toilets that match their gender identity. That means that Grimm’s two wins on the 4th Circuit will likely stand for the foreseeable future. But a patchwork of courts will now determine whether these county court precedents will affect cases of transgender athletes, especially as students start trying their hand at fall sports.

“The question to the courts is: Do these attempts to ban transkids from sports teams have a better justification under stricter scrutiny than laws banning transkids from using the toilets?” Block said.

Here are three things to know about restrictions on transgender exercise:

There are three key challenges to government law that you must carefully monitor

The ACLU and other civil rights groups have filed lawsuits against Idaho, West Virginia and Florida over laws preventing transgender students from playing on women’s and girls’ sports teams. The ACLU has also vowed to file additional challenges against Florida and Tennessee.

“This isn’t the Olympics, these are kids just trying to live their lives as kids and play sports with their friends after school,” Block said.

All lawsuits argue that the laws under the Equal Protection Clause of 14th Amendment to the Constitution are unconstitutional and violate Title IX, an education law that prohibits gender discrimination.

Idaho: Idaho law has been stalled in the 9th District Court of Appeals. A judgment there could have repercussions on the fate of similar laws passed by other states this year.

In March 2020, Idaho Governor Brad Little signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, the nation’s first law banning transgender women and girls from participating in school sports and requiring invasive testing if the gender of an athlete is in Question is asked. The law was approved by the ACLU on behalf of transgender athlete Lindsay Hecox, who tried herself out for the Boise State athletics team, and Jane Doe, a cisgender woman who was concerned that she would have to undergo a medical test to get it prove quickly challenged actually not transgender. State law also garnered the backing of the Trump administration in court.

Last summer, a district court ruled to temporarily suspend the law during the trial so Hecox can test for the team in the fall.

West Virginia: Mountain State is the second to defend its ban on transgender athletes in court. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of 11-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson, an aspiring transgender middle school student who wants to try herself for their school’s cross-country team for girls. The team exercises begin this month and the state law comes into effect on July 8th.

Florida: This week, LGBTQ civil rights group Human Rights Campaign filed a lawsuit against Florida law that Governor Ron DeSantis signed on June 1, the first day of Pride Month.

HRC submitted the challenge on behalf of a 13-year-old transgender student under the pseudonym Daisy, a multisport athlete who is about to enter eighth grade and plays as a goalkeeper in three different soccer teams. Her lawyers argued that the law prohibiting her from playing on the girls’ team would be detrimental to her academic and social development while compromising her privacy and security.

Also worth seeing: Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit, is suing the Connecticut Sports Authority and five school boards over policies that allow transgender students to participate in women’s sports teams. The group is suing on behalf of four cisgender female high school athletes.

A district court judge dismissed the case in April and ADF appealed the decision to the 2nd District Court of Appeals.

“Courts across the country have consistently ruled that Title IX requires schools to treat transgender students in accordance with their gender identity,” wrote Robert Chatigny, a senior judge for the Connecticut District. “Every appellate court that deals with the issue has done so.”

The Biden administration supported the students

In June the Ministry of Education published a new interpretation of Title IX. Now the law also includes banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a far-reaching reversal of the Obama-era removal of transgender people from discrimination by the Trump administration.

The interpretation is based on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Bostock v Clayton County. However, the statement on transgender rights in the workplace specifically states that it does not address the right to use bathrooms or changing rooms, and the Supreme Court has not yet opened a case over these challenges.

The Biden Justice Department has already taken steps to protect the right of transgender girls to play on sports teams by calling West Virginia law unconstitutional in its Declaration of Interest in the Pepper-Jackson case.

Which government policy takes precedence?

As the struggle for transgender athlete rights brews locally, schools are caught between federal mandates and state laws.

“One of the important things to consider is what schools are really supposed to do?” Francisco Negron, chief legal officer of the National School Boards Association, said at a round table for the Education Writers Association this week. “You have competing legal and constitutional mandates. Remember that schools are creatures of state law, and in many cases their primary role is to obey the law of the state. “

The Department of Education’s Civil Rights Bureau has promised to “fully enforce” Title IX in programs and activities that receive federal funding from the Agency. However, it is still unclear what steps the department will take to enforce Title IX in states that have passed laws banning transgender women and girls from participating in sports teams that match their gender identity.

“A big problem for the schools there is that if you don’t do this as a recipient of federal funding, are you going to lose any of those dollars?” said Negron. “They’ve never really been held back historically, but it’s a real possibility.”

Andrew Atterbury contributed to this report.

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