News (USA)

Teens sue in Utah to be allowed to play sports in school

A women's sports team wearing red jerseys in a huddle
Photo: Shutterstock

The families of two transgender girls filed a lawsuit challenging a state law in Utah that bans transgender women and girls from participating in school sports this past Tuesday, arguing that the law is unconstitutional.

“It really is a tragically fear-based law,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Related: Utah’s Republican governor vetoes transgender sports ban

The suit filed in the the Third Judicial District Court of Salt Lake County says the ban on trans people in school sports is “based on unfounded stereotypes, fears, and misconceptions about girls who are transgender. It is not supported by medical or scientific evidence.” It also states if gender dysphoria is left untreated, it can “cause anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide.”

The parties being sued include the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) – which regulates interscholastic sports and activities in the state – Granite School District, and the district’s superintendent, Rich Nye.

The two student-athletes are identified by pseudonyms: Jenny Roe, a 16-year-old volleyball player, and Jane Noe, a 13-year-old swimmer.

Both teenagers were diagnosed with gender dysphoria at a young age, and both received puberty blocker medication that has prevented them from going through male puberty, according to the lawsuit. For their emotional well-being, playing with members of their own gender is paramount, the lawsuit adds.

Also Jenny qualified to play on the girls’ team under the UHSAA guidelines.

“My last season playing volleyball was one of the best times of my life. I loved my teammates, felt part of something bigger than myself, and finally had a way to socialize with friends after being cooped up during the pandemic,” Jenny said in a statement.

“This law devastated me. I just want to play on a team like any other kid.”

Back in March, GOP lawmakers in Utah overrode Republican Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of the ban, titled H.B. 11. The law bans transgender athletes from competing with members of their own gender on sports teams. Supporters of the law said the ban was an important step forward to preserve fair competition opportunities. Gov. Cox questioned the need for it and said it targeted a marginalized group with a high suicide rate.

Across the country, numerous lawsuits have been filed against transgender students participating in school sports.

UHSAA was not aware of the active litigation but had no comment.

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