Arizona GOP leaders want to protect law that limits transgender student athletes
May 2, 2023, 12:00 PM
PHOENIX — Republican leaders in the Arizona Legislature want to protect a state law that bans transgender girls from competing in school sports against biological females.
The parents of two transgender girls filed a lawsuit April 18 in U.S. District Court in Tucson challenging the legislation, which then-Gov. Doug Ducey signed last year.
Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma filed a motion to intervene Monday because Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, disqualified herself from defending the law.
“By allowing males to compete against females, we’re essentially subjecting young girls to greater risk of injury, as well as stripping them of athletic opportunities their female predecessors have long fought for,” Petersen said in a press release.
“In the absence of the attorney general defending Arizona’s law, we’re looking forward to fighting for the rights of female athletes across Arizona, as well as for the court making it clear Arizona’s law protecting women and girls should be enforced.”
— AZSenateRepublicans (@AZSenateGOP) May 1, 2023
The plaintiffs include an 11-year-old who wants to play girls’ soccer, basketball and cross country, and a 15-year-old volleyball player.
“The ban’s exclusion of plaintiffs from participating in school sports because they are transgender denies them equal treatment under the law,” attorneys wrote in the 21-page complaint.
The attorneys also argued the law violates the Equal Protection Clause under the U.S. Constitution and Title IX.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, who is a defendant in the challenge, called the lawsuit’s logic “backwards.” It’s about fairness, he added.
“Title IX was aimed at giving girls equal opportunities for playing sports. When a biological boy plays in a girls’ sport, it disadvantages the girls,” Horne, a Republican, told The Associated Press.
LGBTQ+ rights advocates say GOP-backed bills about transgender athletes across the U.S. are anti-trans attacks disguised as protections for children, and that they use trans people as political pawns to galvanize GOP voters ahead of an election year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.