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State, Regional and National Organizations Urge Gov. Little to Veto Trans Sports Ban Bill

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Ash Orr (they/he)

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

State Capitol

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

AAUW Idaho

American Civil Liberties Union

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago 

Athlete Ally

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Center for American Progress

Center for Constitutional Rights

Equal Rights Advocates

Equality California

Equality North Carolina

Family Equality


Freedom for All Americans

FreeState Justice

Gender Justice

Girls Inc. 

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality


Human Rights Campaign

Inclusion Playbook

interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth

Lambda Legal

Legal Momentum, the Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund

Los Angeles LGBT Center

Lurie Children's Hospital
Mazzoni Center

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

Public Justice

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)

Whitman-Walker Health

Women’s Sports Foundation     



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