Lawmakers overrule Holcomb, enact transgender sports legislation

ACLU of Indiana has filed a lawsuit challenging the law
The General Assembly met for Technical Corrections Day on May 24, 2022.
The General Assembly met for Technical Corrections Day on May 24, 2022.(WPTA)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 3:13 PM EDT
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UPDATE: The ACLU of Indiana has filed a lawsuit challenging HEA 1041. The action immediately followed the legislature’s override of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto.

The lawsuit lists as plaintiff a 10-year-old transgender girl who plays on a school girls’ softball team. It is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS (WPTA) - By action of members of his own party, Gov. Eric Holcomb saw lawmakers on Tuesday override his veto of House Enrolled Act 1041 -- the “Transgender Sports Bill” -- to impose new regulations on how athletes compete at Indiana’s schools.

Holcomb vetoed the bill in March. He said it fell short in clarifying or creating policy to ensure “fairness” in school sports.

In his veto letter, he said he echoed the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s concerns that the bill does not address inconsistencies about enforcement across different counties and school districts and will cause confusion and litigation against schools. He also pointed to pending litigation seen in other states that have passed similar laws, where courts have enjoined or prohibited the laws from taking effect.

But Republicans in the General Assembly, as widely anticipated, voted to override the governor on HEA 1041. The votes came as some, including the ACLU, demonstrated at the Statehouse in opposition to the measure. The stage for the vote itself was set months ago and the action was the most closely watched as lawmakers met on “Technical Corrections Day.”

The House vote to override was 67 in favor and 28 against. Later in the afternoon, the Senate followed suit in a vote of 32-to-15. A simple majority was needed in both chambers to override the veto.

Democrats lashed out, calling the new law unnecessary and hurtful to Hoosier students.

“Indiana codified legislation directly targeting a few vulnerable students into law to distract from Republicans inability to meet the moment and form a cogent agenda,” House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta said. “It’s a pattern seen in state legislatures across the country.”

HEA 1041 prevents transgender females from competing in girls’ school sports in grades Kindergarten through 12. Similar laws have been enacted in more than a dozen other states in the past two years.

Bill sponsors maintain it is needed to protect the integrity of female sports and opportunities for girls to gain college athletic scholarships but have pointed out no instances in the state of girls being outperformed by transgender athletes.

“I’m proud of our statehouse for setting a good example for legislatures nationwide, and most of all, for standing up for Hoosier girls and their parents,” Congressman Jim Banks (R) said. “I strongly believe that protecting women’s sports is an issue that will soon unite all Republicans and I am working hard to make sure that Congress passes similar legislation after we retake the majority.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana says they have filed a lawsuit challenging the bill. They say the lawsuit was filed on behalf of A.M., a 10 -year-old girl who plays on her school’s all-girls softball team. They say when the law goes into effect on July 1, it would deny A.M. the right to rejoin her team because she is a transgender girl.

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