Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Christopher Vasquez | NCLR Director of Communications
cvasquez@nclrights.org | 415-365-1337

TUCSON, AZ – Today, two Arizona families filed a legal challenge in federal court against S.B. 1165, which prohibits transgender girls from competing in school sports. The Plaintiffs are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Law Firms Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Osborn Maledon P.A.

The law singles out transgender girls in order to exclude them from girls’ sports. It bars every transgender girl from competing on a girls’ team regardless of her medical care or individual circumstances.

The students included in the challenge are transgender girls who love sports and want to participate in sports with other girls. The families are proceeding anonymously to protect their children. They include Jane Doe, an 11-year-old who wants to play girls’ soccer, basketball, and cross-country when she enters middle school this upcoming school year, and Megan Roe, a 15-year-old volleyball player. Jane and Megan will be barred from playing the sports they love because of S.B. 1165.

“I want to be able to play with my friends and to hopefully make new friends too. It hurts to know that some people want to keep me away from sports and from my friends,” said Jane Doe, who has played soccer for almost five years.

“Jane will be very upset if she is not allowed to play sports on a girls’ team. Jane knows this would be because she is transgender, and I worry about how that will affect her self-esteem and her confidence,” Helen Doe, mother of 11-year-old Jane Doe added.  “Jane will not receive all the positive benefits that school sports provide. This includes the obvious physical benefits, but also social and emotional benefits of playing with other kids, learning how to win and lose, and having coaches and other adults who support the team.”

“No parent ever wants their kid to lose out on opportunities and experiences that can help them grow as people. Sports provide all kinds of benefits to kids, and it is very upsetting that they may be completely cut off for my child,” said Kate Roe, mother of 15-year-old Megan Roe.

“This law bans transgender girls from competing with other girls in every sport, at every grade level, and regardless of each girl’s individual circumstances,” said Rachel Berg, NCLR Staff Attorney. “It cannot survive constitutional scrutiny and it endangers transgender children.”

“We are proud to stand up for our clients’ rights to try out for and participate on girls’ sports teams,” said Justin R. Rassi, Associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. “Numerous courts around this country have struck down similar bans and S.B. 1165 should meet that same fate.”

By singling out transgender girls for disfavored treatment, the children and their families allege S.B. 1165 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act.

S.B. 1165 is one of the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ laws pushed in state legislatures across the country in the past couple of years. Healthcare organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association have opposed such legislation, as has the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education.

Other courts to consider similar pieces of legislation have struck them down, including those in Utah, Idaho, Indiana, and West Virginia.


The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Since its founding, NCLR has maintained a longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and the LGBTQ community’s most vulnerable. www.nclrights.org