An Idaho law banning transgender females from competing in interscholastic sports for girls and women at public schools, and state colleges and universities was blocked Monday by Idaho Chief U.S. District Court Judge David C. Nye.
Nye did not strike down the law, but stopped enforcement of it until there is a court ruling on its constitutionality. Nye did indicate the law’s shaky constitutional foundation means it will likely not stand up in court and should not be implemented while the legal battle plays out.
“The Court recognizes that this decision is likely to be controversial,” Nye wrote in his ruling. “While the citizens of Idaho are likely to either vehemently oppose, or fervently support, the Act, the Constitution must always prevail.”
The law, known as House Bbill 500 or the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, effectively made it impossible for trans girls and women to play high school or college sports. Additionally, HB 500 reserved the right to perform a potentially invasive sex verification process on a student if her gender is questioned. Republican Gov. Brad Little signed HB 500, along with a bill banning the changing of gender markers on birth certificates, in March.
The American Civil Liberties Union-led lawsuit against Little and HB 500 was brought on behalf of Lindsay Hecox, a transgender student at Boise State University who had been planning to try out for the cross country team, and Jane Doe, a senior at Boise High School who is cisgender and concerned about being subjected to the law’s sex verification. Proponents of the law believe trans female athletes have an advantage over cisgender female athletes, a claim that’s been disputed by numerous doctors and sports officials.
“We are relieved that our clients, and all girls and women in Idaho, will be able to participate in sports without interference from this discriminatory law,” Gabriel Arkles, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement. “If politicians in other states attack transgender youth, they will face similar challenges.”