By Corinne Murdock |
On Thursday, the Ninth District Circuit Court denied Superintendent Tom Horne’s emergency petition for the relocation of a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s ban on boys in girls’ K-12 sports.
Horne filed the emergency petition last month after District Court Judge Jennifer Zipps twice refused to approve his requested change of venue to a Phoenix court. The case sits currently in Tucson.
Horne’s team argued in their change of venue requests that his residency and primary duties as superintendent relegated him to Phoenix, making travel to a Tucson hearing difficult to arrange. They also argued that Zipps failed to follow Ninth Circuit precedent deferring to the state’s strong public policy interest in protecting residents and elected officials subject to frequent lawsuits from inconvenient venues.
“The District Court thus seriously erred and abused its discretion in overlooking or failing to properly weigh the effect of two Arizona statutes requiring suits against public officials to be filed in the county in which they hold office […] and requiring suits against the state to be filed in Maricopa County,” stated Horne. “Because public officials are subject to more lawsuits based on their public service, the State of Arizona has enacted special venue provisions requiring that public officials be sued in a venue that is convenient to the public official[.]”
However, the Ninth District Court determined that Horne hadn’t demonstrated a “clear and indisputable right” to such a change of venue.
In the case, Jane Doe v. Thomas Horne, the parents of an 11-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy sued the state in April. The parents are seeking an injunction on SB1165, which requires children to play on sports teams aligning with their gender in K-12 sports.
The lawsuit claims that transgenderism — a mental dissonance between one’s perceived and actual biological gender — is a sex-based trait.
The lawsuit also claimed that all individuals have a gender identity — a perception of one’s gender in addition to their biological reality — and that the only proper treatment for those with gender dysphoria was to allow the full exercise of the dysphoric feelings.
The children in the case are an 11-year-old Maricopa County boy that desires to play girls’ basketball, cross country, and soccer, named “Jane Doe” for anonymity, and a 15-year-old Pima County boy who desires to play girls’ volleyball, “Megan Roe.”
“Under the medical standards of care for the treatment of gender dysphoria in adolescents, the only safe and effective treatment for gender dysphoria is to permit transgender adolescents to live consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of their lives,” stated the lawsuit.
Doe hasn’t begun puberty blockers yet, but plans to at the onset of puberty; Roe has been on puberty blockers since 11 years old, and hormone replacement therapy since 12 years old.
Horne told The Associated Press that the lawsuit was “backwards” and an attempt to steal protections instituted for girls and women originally.
“Title IX was aimed at giving girls equal opportunities for playing sports. When a biological boy plays in a girl’s sport, it disadvantages the girls,” said Horne. “There have been lots of news stories about girls who worked hard to excel at their sports, found they could not when they had to compete against biological boys and were devastated by that.”
One mother, who remains anonymous due to concerns over her family’s safety, told The Associated Press that she worries about her son’s mental health due to this lawsuit.
“Jane knows this would be because [he] is transgender, and I worry about how that will affect [his] self-esteem and [his] confidence,” said the mother.
AIA first began to allow transgender students to compete on the sports team of the opposite sex in 2014. The AIA thereafter considered these acceptances on a case-by-case basis. In 2018, the AIA revised the policy to allow students to compete on sports teams that aligned with their gender identity rather than biological sex.
The lawsuit claimed that since no reported harm had come of the several students who exercised this policy, the Arizona legislature had no basis for passing its ban last year.
Attorney General Kris Mayes refused to defend the law in court, prompting State Sen. President Warren Petersen (R-LD14) and State House Speaker Ben Toma (R-LD27) to intervene.