Despite Indiana governor's veto of banning transgender girls in school sports, it will be law

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As promised, the Indiana General Assembly has overturned Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of House Bill 1041, which prohibits transgender girls from playing girls school sports.

As promised, a lawsuit challenging the law was filed just minutes after the final vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit Tuesday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of a transgender 10-year-old and her mother. It asserts that prohibiting transgender girls from participating in girls’ athletics is discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX, and also represents discrimination on the basis of transgender status, as well as sex, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

The law, which Holcomb vetoed in late March, will take effect July 1.

Within hours of Holcomb’s veto, fellow Republicans began calling on lawmakers to overturn it. Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers of the Statehouse but only need a simple majority to override a veto.

Related: Minutes after lawmakers override veto of transgender sports ban, first lawsuit is filed

The House voted to override the veto, 67-28 and the Senate voted to do the same, 32-15.

“This is a policy that we feel is appropriate,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville. “We don't like to get the state of Indiana sued, but it happens from time to time.”

Supporters want to protect girls' sports

Lawmakers were back at the Statehouse Tuesday for their annual technical corrections day, during which they correct errors in bill language from the previous session. The session ended in mid-March.

Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland, wrote HB 1041.

“The purpose of this bill is to maintain fair competition in girls’ sports now and in the future,” Davis said on the floor Tuesday afternoon. Davis and many members of the House Republican caucus were wearing pink to support girls sports.

Many members of the House Democrats caucus were also wearing pink, many of them with pro-choice buttons on. It's possible lawmakers could come back for a special session still this year to take up abortion restrictions. Republican leadership has said they're waiting for a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The veto: Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoes ban on transgender girls playing girls sports in school

In his veto, Holcomb said House Bill 1041 did not advance the goal of providing a clear and consistent policy to ensure fairness in the state's K-12 sports, would likely invite a lawsuit against the state and sought to solve a problem that doesn't exist in Indiana.

“It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met," Holcomb wrote in a letter explaining the veto. "After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal.”

The Indiana High School Athletics Association has a policy in place to govern the participation of transgender athletes in participating schools. For transgender youth to compete on a high school team in Indiana that matches their gender identity, IHSAA rules require they prove they have been living as the gender they identify with for at least a year.

Around the nation: Sports leagues were unprepared for avalanche of anti-LGBTQ legislation

Democrats in the Statehouse and beyond continued to oppose the measure. Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, called HB 1041 "blatantly discriminatory" and accused those who voted in favor of it of "throwing children under the bus" in order to score political points.

State party chair Mike Schmuhl called it a "national party purity test."

"The Indiana GOP’s choice to override Governor Holcomb’s veto," he said, "will be remembered as the time when elected Republicans used the power of their offices to bully innocent children."

Many in the LGBTQ community and those who work with transgender youth have said they're afraid that targeting them and banning transgender girls, in particular, from having the same opportunities as their cisgender peers will be detrimental to their mental health.

An opportunity to 'do what kids do'

The veto was a welcome surprise for the families of transgender children and their advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, that fiercely fought the legislation for months.

A few hours before the vote, many of them gathered on the south lawn of the Statehouse – but not to fight. That would come later.

More: Briggs: Holcomb’s transgender sports veto has Republicans underestimating him again

For an hour, they just came together to play.

Standing in the sunshine on a gorgeous late spring morning, dozens of kids, families and activists hula-hooped, kicked balls and played lawn games. Kit Malone, an advocacy strategist for the ACLU of Indiana, said they planned the event to give kids and families a chance to have fun and forget about the fight ahead.

“It’s been emotionally difficult for all the families and youth,” Malone said. “And this is an opportunity for them to just do what youth and kids and families should get to do.

“And that’s just play and forget about that weight for a while.”

More: 'We can go through it together': In a challenging world, Trans Solutions empowers Hoosiers

Abby Allen, a senior at Purdue Polytechnic High School, took the opportunity to just be herself. As a transgender girl, Allen said she doesn’t always have the support to do that. Playing with other kids and families outside the Statehouse, Allen said she has played all kinds of sports growing up.

“I enjoy being who I am,” she said, looking down at her red dress, black leggings and patent leather platform boots, “which is something I’m not able to do a lot.”

Democrats in the Statehouse and beyond continued to oppose the measure. Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, called HB 1041 "blatantly discriminatory" and accused those who voted in favor of it of "throwing children under the bus" in order to score political points.

State party chair Mike Schmuhl called it a "national party purity test."

"The Indiana GOP’s choice to override Governor Holcomb’s veto," he said, "will be remembered as the time when elected Republicans used the power of their offices to bully innocent children."

Many in the LGBTQ community and those who work with transgender youth have said they're afraid that targeting them and banning transgender girls, in particular, from having the same opportunities as their cisgender peers will be detrimental to their mental health.

Call IndyStar education reporter Arika Herron at 317-201-5620 or email her at Arika.Herron@indystar.com. Follow her on Twitter: @ArikaHerron.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Gov. Holcomb's veto of trans girls in Indiana school sports overturned