The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) announced Thursday it had filed a motion in court to have the venue of a lawsuit against the enforcement of an Arizona law changed from Tucson to Phoenix.
“Crucially, counsel for the parties are located in Phoenix. Even Plaintiffs are represented by local counsel in Phoenix, as is counsel for Superintendent [Tom] Horne. The result is that all of the Arizona lawyers are located in Phoenix, none are located in Tucson. That makes an overwhelming difference in the expense to the parties in litigating this case,” according to the motion, emailed to reporters.
The Arizona Sun Times reported that the lawsuit surrounds Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 15-120.02, which states that a male student cannot participate in a school-funded sports team against females unless the sport is labeled explicitly as co-ed. The complaint was brought by two Arizona families with transgender children who wish to compete with biological girls in sports but cannot under the law. The complaint seeks an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced.
Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) and House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria) filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit because Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) has refused to defend the law. However, the ADE argued this could work in its favor because if the legislators are allowed to enter the case, they are also based in Phoenix.
Additionally, under Arizona law, if an action is taken against a public official, it “shall be brought in the county in which the officer, or one of several officers, holds office.” Horne is the main defendant in this case, so the ADE stated the lawsuit should move to Phoenix.
Furthermore, the ADE shared a motion with The Sun Times regarding the case’s schedule. By May 18th, the defendants must respond to the complaint’s allegations. Then, the plaintiffs can give a reply to the responses by June 1st. Lastly, the defendants will have a chance to give final comments regarding the opposition on June 8th.
Furthermore, the ADE’s announcement coincided with a statement from Horne, sharing that he is adamantly opposed to allowing male students to compete against females.
“If there were a sport for which male physical qualities were not an advantage, there would be no reason to divide boys from girls’ sports and they could have a mixed gender team. Where mixed teams are not appropriate because boys have an advantage, boys’ teams need to be for biological males, and girls’ teams for biological females,” Horne said. “The whole reason we divide boys’ from girls’ sports is because of the male advantage in muscle mass and bone structure. Making girls compete against that is a major injustice.”
Superintendent Horne said, "The proposed rule submitted by the U.S. Department of Education would decimate girls’ sports in public schools and is contrary to the original intent of Title IX to provide a level playing field for women and girls to participate in team sports.
— Arizona Department of Education (@azedschools) May 5, 2023
This was part of a public comment Horne submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, opposing proposed changes to Title IX from President Joe Biden’s (D) Administration. The proposals would make it illegal for schools nationwide to ban transgender students from participating on the team they identify with. Horne said this proposal is entirely unfair to women athletes.
“The proposed rule submitted by the U.S. Department of Education would decimate girls’ sports in public schools and is contrary to the original intent of Title IX to provide a level playing field for women and girls to participate in team sports,” Horne said. “There are numerous news articles about girls who worked hard to excel in their sports, and then were devastated when they could not excel because they had to compete against biological boys, who have the advantage of male muscle mass and bone structure.”
While the Biden administration pushed for boys and girls to compete together, Congress has another idea. In April, the U.S. House passed the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, which has similar provisions to Arizona’s law. All of Arizona’s Republican Representatives helped the act ad to the Senate.
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