Two Utah families this week filed a lawsuit against the state over a law that prohibits transgender girls from participating in school sports that correspond with their gender identity.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Third Judicial District Court for Salt Lake County, was filed on behalf of a 16-year-old who wants to play on her school’s girls’ volleyball team and 13-year-old who wants to compete on her school’s girls’ swim team.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA), an organization that regulates school sports in the state, the Granite School District and its superintendent Rich Nye.

The families of the girls say that the state law “stigmatizes and discriminates” against the girls, “denies them equal opportunities” and “subjects them to serious adverse effects on their physical and mental health.” The lawsuit requests that the court deem the law unconstitutional and block it from going into effect.

The Republican-controlled Utah legislature overrode Gov. Spencer Cox’s (R) veto of the bill blocking transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams in March. Cox said that he vetoed the bill because there were just four transgender kids involved with school sports in Utah, and only one was a transgender girl playing on a girls’ team.

Still, the legislature chose to override Cox’s veto, with the sponsor of the bill claiming that the “integrity of women’s sports” needed to stay intact.

The new lawsuit says that Utah’s ban is “based on unfounded stereotypes, fears, and misconceptions about girls who are transgender” and is “not supported by medical or scientific evidence.”

The 16-year-old volleyball player in the lawsuit, named as Jenny Roe, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age 12, and the 13-year-old swimmer, named as Jane Noe, was diagnosed at about 8.

“My last season playing volleyball was one of the best times of my life,” Jenny said in a statement included in the suit. “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.”

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

The bill is the latest effort by a GOP-controlled state legislature to ban transgender girls from playing on school sports’ teams that match their gender identity. A number of states, including Florida, Alabama and Georgia, passed laws earlier this year prohibiting transgender women from participating in women’s sports.

The Utah bill is set to take effect July 1.

Tags LGBTQ rights Spencer Cox transgender athletes transgender sports ban Utah
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