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ACLU files lawsuit against Idaho transgender athlete law

Staff Writer | April 16, 2020 1:00 AM

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the state of Idaho over the Fairness In Women’s Sports Act.

The law, signed by Gov. Brad Little, prohibits transgender women and girls from participating on women’s and girls sports teams in Idaho public schools, colleges and universities.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office warned legislators in February that the bill is likely unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a transgender trackster at Boise State University and a cisgender girl at Boise High School, claims the law illegally targets transgender and intersex women and girls while subjecting all female athletes to potentially invasive genital and genetic screenings.

“In Idaho and around the country, transgender people of all ages have been participating in sports consistent with their gender identity for years,” ACLU attorney Gabriel Arkles said in a statement. “Inclusive teams support all athletes and encourage participation. This should be the standard for all school sports.”

Little signed the bill into law on March 30, hours before his constitutionally imposed legislative deadline, along with HB 509, which prohibits changing the gender on birth certificates in all but a few cases.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act is the first law in the nation to regulate on which team transgender women and girls can participate, though its sponsor in the Idaho Senate — Sen. Mary Souza of Coeur d’Alene — said the merits of the bill have been debated around the country long before it was weighed in the Idaho Legislature.

“It has been debated for quite some time,” Souza said, “and it’s a complicated issue. That’s why the only way to deal with this is to go back to the basics and say that biology establishes sex. On the cellular level, it doesn’t change for your entire life. Gender identity, on the other hand, can change — and does change, for some people — and that’s based on many different factors that are personal to them.”

Lindsay Hecox, the incoming BSU freshman at the heart of the lawsuit and who is reportedly planning to run cross country for the Broncos in the fall, said the driving force behind her love of sports is the camaraderie she wouldn’t find anywhere else.

“I just want to run with other girls on the team,” Hecox said. “I run for myself, but part of what I enjoy about the sport is building the relationships with a team. I’m a girl, and the right team for me is the girls team.”