News (USA)

Judge blocks Utah’s transgender sports ban for being discriminatory

Girls celebrating in a sport
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A state judge just issued an injunction against Utah’s new transgender sports ban, allowing transgender student-athletes to continue to participate in school sports.

Third District Judge Keith Kelly ruled on Friday that the state can’t kick transgender girls out of girls’ sports because the new law harms them by taking away educational opportunities and increasing stigma against trans kids.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit brought by the families of three transgender students this past May who argued that the sports ban was “based on unfounded stereotypes, fears, and misconceptions about girls who are transgender. It is not supported by medical or scientific evidence.”

Judge Kelly agreed that they were likely to win their claims and said that the law is causing harm by “singling them out for unfavorable treatment as transgender girls.”

News of the injunction comes just after Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) representative David Spatafore said that the organization had been receiving complaints from some parents who argued that a “female athlete doesn’t look feminine enough.”

In one case, the complaints were made by the parents of the second- and third-place finishers in a sport (Spatafore didn’t state the sport or the age group to protect the students’ privacy) against the winner of the event. The UHSAA had to investigate the winner and found that she had always been identified as female in her school records so she was judged to be cisgender.

“The school went back to kindergarten and she’d always been a female,” Spatafore said.

“Quite frankly, this is new ground for us,” he said. “I’m not going to say that we have it down pat, because I have no clue. I don’t think any of us in the office have a clue if we have it down pat. What we want to do is we just want to try to do our job.”

Jenny Roe, a 16-year-old volleyball player, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. She was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at a young age and received puberty blockers.

She qualified to play school sports under the UHSAA’s previous guidelines but was blocked by the new law.

“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,” she said in a statement. “This law devastated me. I just want to play on a team like any other kid.”

Judge Kelly’s injunction allows transgender girls to participate in girls’ sports “only when it is fair,” which will be determined by a commission created by the state legislature.

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