ACLU sues to block Idaho law attacking trans student-athletes

Transgender athletes have been participating in sports, including on the teams that match their gender identity, for decades. In recent years, anti-trans activists have largely given up on battles over restrooms and are instead attacking transgender student-athletes.

In 2020, 17 states introduced legislation that would ban transgender students from participating in school sports. On March 30, 2020, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed into law the only ban on transgender student-athletes in the country.

Outside of Idaho, policies about participation in school sports for transgender students are generally decided by state activities associations at the K–12 level and NCAA at the collegiate level. No state, athletic association, or the NCAA completely ban women and girls who are transgender from participating in women’s sports. Idaho’s anti-trans law, in fact, directly contradicts the standards set by the NCAA for the participation of transgender student-athletes that govern collegiate sports across the country.

The ACLU, along with Legal Voice, ACLU of Idaho, and Cooley LLP, sued the state of Idaho on behalf of Lindsay Hecox, a Boise State student who would be banned from the women’s track team because she is transgender, along with Jane Doe, a cisgender high school student who could be subjected to invasive medical screenings under HB 500. Doctors, academics, and sports psychologists have served as experts in the case in opposition to HB 500.

A hearing, in this case, will be held on July 22, which is also National Youth Sports Day. The hearing will cover whether the federal court should issue a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of the new law before the fall sports season; whether the court should dismiss the lawsuit; and whether two Idaho State University student-athletes, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, can intervene in the case as parties to the lawsuit to argue in favor of the law.

In addition to the lawsuit, the ACLU, Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and dozens of other athletes and organizations have called on the NCAA to move the 2021 Men’s Basketball Championship from Idaho. The NCAA is expected to announce a decision in August.

In Connecticut, a group of cisgender students have sued over the state interscholastic athletic conference policy that allows transgender students to participate in school sports.

The ACLU intervened in the case on behalf of Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, two transgender student-athletes who were targeted by the lawsuit. The judge in this case, like many other courts, has asked all parties to avoid referring to our clients as “males.” In response, the cisgender plaintiffs in the lawsuit asked for a new judge. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is currently considering this request.

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