Press Release

Cooley, ACLU + Legal Voice Challenge Idaho Law Targeting Trans Student Athletes

April 16, 2020

San Francisco – April 16, 2020 – Cooley, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Idaho and Legal Voice filed a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s recently passed law that bans transgender and many intersex women and girls from participating in school sports. HB 500, signed into law by Governor Brad Little, makes Idaho the first state to impose such a ban and is the only statewide law regulating transgender and intersex athletes in the US. Lawyers Kathleen Hartnett, Elizabeth Prelogar, Andrew Barr and Katelyn Kang are leading the Cooley effort. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a track athlete at Boise State University who is transgender and a junior at Boise High School who is cisgender and concerned about being subjected to invasive sex verification testing under the new law. 

“We’re suing because HB 500 illegally targets women and girls who are transgender and intersex and subjects all female athletes to the possibility of invasive genital and genetic screenings,” said Gabriel Arkles, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, in a statement. “In Idaho and around the country, transgender people of all ages have been participating in sports consistent with their gender identity for years. Inclusive teams support all athletes and encourage participation – this should be the standard for all school sports.”

In 2020, more than 200 anti-LGBTQ+ laws were active in state legislatures, including dozens targeting transgender youth. HB 500 replaces Idaho’s already restrictive policy on participation of transgender athletes in high school athletics – a policy that required transgender girls to complete one year of hormone therapy as part of gender transition before competing in girls’ sports. The same rule exists in the NCAA and elite international competition.

“By discriminating and invading privacy, HB 500 violates the US Constitution and Title IX, and we look forward to presenting our arguments to the court,” said Hartnett.  

Legal Voice is a progressive feminist nonprofit organization using the power of the law to make positive change for women, girls and LGBTQ+ people in the Northwest. An affiliate of the national ACLU, the ACLU of Idaho has been at the forefront of defending the Constitutional rights of Idahoans for more than 25 years. 

Read the full press release from the ACLU 

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