FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2020
State, Regional and National Organizations Urge Gov. Little to Veto Trans Sports Ban Bill
BOISE, Idaho – More than 50 national, regional and state organizations have signed onto a letter urging Idaho Gov. Brad Little to veto legislation that would ban transgender student athletes from participating in sports.
House Bill 500 bans transgender student athletes from participating in sports, which is counter to current policies set by the Idaho High School Activities Association. Idaho would become the first state in the country to pass legislation targeting transgender student athletes.
State politicians supported this dangerous legislation during a public health emergency that calls for people to come together. Their actions should be rejected by the governor.
“The nation is watching as Gov. Little considers this discriminatory and hurtful legislation,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “We are urging the governor to stand up for trans kids and to stand up for fairness. It’s time for Idaho to come together and heal after this divisive fight. Gov. Little’s legacy and reputation are at stake.”
The Women’s Sports Foundation, the National Women’s Law Center, Women Leaders in College Sports and others are among the groups that support the participation of transgender student athletes in school sports. Girls Inc. is also a signer of the letter.
The text of the letter and signers are below:
National Sign on Letter to Oppose Anti-Trans Youth Sports Legislation
Office of the Governor
PO Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720
Dear Governor Little,
We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to express our deep dismay with the passage of House Bill 500 and concern for the implications of this bill for all young women and girls.
Despite the bill’s stated intent-- to protect and promote girls’ sports—this bill would compromise access to sports for many vulnerable youth while doing nothing to support young athletes or to address real threats to girls’ sports.
This bill blatantly targets an already-marginalized community in athletics and decreases their participation in sports. Transgender youth already participate at significantly lower rates and already feel unsafe in athletic spaces. A recent survey revealed that only 12% of trans girls and 14% of trans boys play on a team sport (compared to a national average of 68% of all youth). Further, when states enact policies that create new barriers for transgender athletes to participate in sports, the number of participants in sports for all LGBTQ youth drops. The harm of these laws falls explicitly on transgender girls, but the impact extends even further.
Moreover, this bill does nothing to address the real threats to all girls’ participation in sports. Despite Title IX, schools are providing about 1.13 million fewer opportunities for girls to play sports in high school as compared to boys. Girl’s’ teams also routinely receive fewer benefits and resources compared to boys’ teams. Another documented threat to girls’ participation in sports includes the continued lack of female role models in coaching positions. Nearly 80% of female leaders in sports reported that lack of exposure to female coaches as role models limits girls’ sports participation. If legislators want to seriously protect and promote girls in sports, they should start by addressing Title IX non-compliance, funding disparities, and hiring practices that negatively impact girls’ athletics.
At their core, youth sports are about building character, increasing self-confidence, and promoting healthy behavior and relationships. No child should be excluded from learning these critical life lessons. Youth sports should be open to all girls, including transgender girls. An increasing number of state athletic associations, including many of Idaho’s neighbors (Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming), have trans inclusive sports policies. Though specifics of inclusive policies may vary, a growing majority of sports organizations support allowing young transgender athletes to participate on teams that are consistent with their gender identity. Major national sports governing bodies have also implemented policies that ensure transgender athletes can play and compete in their respective sports, including USA Cycling, USA Hockey, US Soccer, and USA Swimming also support trans-inclusive policies for transgender girls. State legislators should be taking similar steps to increase access to sports for more girls instead of trying to ban vulnerable youth from athletics.
Given the power and benefits of sports, we support transgender youth participating in sports in safe and affirming ways. Therefore, we strongly oppose HB 500 and urge you to veto this harmful legislation. We encourage legislators to explore and pass measures that actually increase equity in girls’ and women’s athletics. Such efforts should never include singling out and excluding transgender youth from the chance to play.
AAUW Boise Area Branch
American Civil Liberties Union
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Center for American Progress
Center for Constitutional Rights
Equal Rights Advocates
Equality North Carolina
Freedom for All Americans
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
Human Rights Campaign
interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth
Legal Momentum, the Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund
Los Angeles LGBT Center
Lurie Children's Hospital
Modern Military Association of America
Movement Advancement Project
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Youth Law
National Council of Jewish Women
National Equality Action Team
National Indian Education Association
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women's Law Center
Oasis Legal Services
OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates
Silver State Equality-Nevada
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
SPLC Action Fund
The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
The Trevor Project
Transgender Law Center
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE)
Women’s Sports Foundation