BOISE, Idaho (ChurchMilitant.com) - A federal judge isn't allowing Idaho to keep males from competing with female athletes in high school and college sports.
U.S. District Judge David Nye on Monday blocked Idaho's ban on so-called transgender male athletes before the state's law could take effect. In his 87-page injunction, the Trump-nominated judge said he knew the decision would be "controversial." Nevertheless, he ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Legal Voice.
Nye justified his decision by claiming the Idaho law would likely be found unconstitutional:
It is the Court's role — as part of the third branch of government — to interpret the law. At this juncture, that means looking at the Act, as enacted by the Idaho Legislature, and determining if it may violate the Constitution. In making this determination, it is not just the constitutional rights of transgender girls and women athletes at issue but, as explained above, the constitutional rights of every girl and woman athlete in Idaho. Because the Court finds Plaintiffs are likely to succeed in establishing the Act is unconstitutional as currently written, it must issue a preliminary injunction at this time pending trial on the merits.
Lindsay Hecox is one of the plaintiffs challenging the law. He is a student at Boise State University who identifies as a female and is planning to try out for the university's track and cross country teams.
Hecox was pleased with the judge's decision.
"I love running, and part of what I enjoy about the sport is building relationships with a team," the student stated. "I'm a girl, and the right team for me is the girls' team. It's time courts recognize that and I am so glad that the court's ruling does."
The other plaintiff in the case is "Jane Doe," a female high school soccer player who fears her sexuality will be challenged and she will be required to participate in the sex verification provision of the law.
The court's ruling describes her situation.
"Because most of her closest friends are boys, she has an athletic build, rarely wears skirts or dresses, and has at times been thought of as "masculine," Jane worries that one of her competitors may dispute her sex pursuant to section 33-6203(3) of the Act," the judge writes.
Nye said he ruled in favor of the plaintiffs because the Idaho law, which is the first in the nation to ban boys from competing as girls, defies policies proposed by athletic regulatory associations:
This categorical bar to girls and women who are transgender stands in stark contrast to the policies of elite athletic bodies that regulate sports both nationally and globally — including the National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA") and the International Olympic Committee ("IOC") — which allow transgender women to participate on female sports teams once certain specific criteria are met.
The ACLU's senior counsel warned other states from attempting to pass laws that prevent biological boys from competing as girls.
"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," said Gabriel Arkles, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "If politicians in other states attack transgender youth, they will face similar challenges."
Church Militant reported on a recent poll that found voters skew strongly conservative on the question of so-called transgender athletes. The American Principles Project and SPRY Strategies poll found that "voters hate the idea of biological males competing against female athletes in women's sports. They strongly oppose minors being subjected to sex changes or gender conversion therapy."
While the federal judge's injunction is temporary, it is based on Nye's legal opinion that plaintiffs will most likely prevail in having the law struck down. So, as the lawsuit makes its way through the court system, boys will be allowed to compete as girls in Idaho.