Transgender athlete ban challenged in Utah lawsuit

Jun 1, 2022, 1:39 AM | Updated: 3:03 pm
FILE - A 12 year old transgender swimmer is seen waiting by a pool on February 22, 2021 in Utah. Sh...

FILE - A 12 year old transgender swimmer is seen waiting by a pool on February 22, 2021 in Utah. She and her family spoke to the associated press on the condition of anonymity. Two transgender athletes and their families filed a lawsuit Tuesday, June 1, 2022, to challenge the states new ban on transgender players competing in girls sports. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A ban on transgender athletes playing on girls’ sports teams is being challenged in court in Utah, one of more than a dozen states that have passed similar bans throughout the last two years.

Two anonymous families who sued Tuesday said the ban wrongly keeps their children from playing the sports they love with their friends.

In a lawsuit filed in state court, they argue categorical bans on transgender athletes violate provisions of the state constitution that ensure men and women enjoy equal rights and due process. Similar suits have been filed in states such as Idaho, West Virginia and Indiana.

Utah’s ban is part of a wave of similar bans sweeping statehouses around the country. Supporters say transgender athletes can have a physical advantage and compromise fairness in girls’ sports. Still, there have been almost no cases of potential competitive advantages in K-12 sports in states passing bans, including Utah.

“My last season playing volleyball was one of the best times of my life,” one plaintiff, a 16-year-old high school junior, said in a statement. “I loved my teammates, felt part of something bigger than myself … I just want to play on a team like any other kid.”

For the Utah lawmakers who sponsored the ban, the lawsuit came as little surprise. The threat of a lawsuit was a subject of discussion throughout the legislative process and informed the way the ban was written.

After observing courts strike down or pause similar bans, Republicans passed a two-pronged law that they said at the time would ensure matters of gender in high school sports would be regulated even if courts intervened.

If courts decide Utah cannot legally implement a ban on transgender athletes, the state will fund lawsuits and convene a commission of politically appointed experts to make eligibility decisions about athletes on a case-by-case basis.

Opponents could still challenge the legality of the commission.

On Tuesday, the ban’s proponents said transgender kids can still compete on the teams of their gender assigned at birth.

“The intention of H.B. 11 is to preserve women’s sports and protect future athletic opportunities,” said Republican Sen. Curt Bramble in a statement.

It was passed after state lawmakers overrode a veto from Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, who drew national attention with an emotional plea about how transgender sports bans target kids already at high suicide risk.

The legislation, hastily rewritten in the final hours of the annual session, didn’t originally pass with a veto-proof majority. But several lawmakers changed their votes after hearing from a vocal conservative base that has particular sway during primary season.

As of March, the Utah High School Activities Association knew of only one transgender girl playing in K-12 sports who would be affected by the ban. There have been no allegations of any of the state’s four transgender youth athletes in Utah having competitive advantages.

The other plaintiff in the lawsuit is a 13-year-old transgender swimmer. Her mother said in a statement the family loves the state but is seriously considering moving away for the first time.

“It is deeply unsettling that the state would want to strip our child of the love and support she has received from her teammates, coaches, and entire sports community,” the mother said.

Idaho became the first state to ban transgender athletes from playing on female sports teams in 2020. A federal judge blocked that law in court after an athlete sued; it’s now being considered by an appeals court. Several states followed with similar bans, and West Virginia’s ban was challenged in 2021.

Indiana lawmakers overrode a gubernatorial veto there earlier this month and it was quickly challenged by the ACLU.


AP writer Sam Metz contributed reporting.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


In this image provided by the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Chief Justice o...
Associated Press

‘Revolutionary’ high court term on abortion, guns and more

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortion, guns and religion — a major change in the law in any one of these areas would have made for a fateful Supreme Court term. In its first full term together, the court’s conservative majority ruled in all three and issued other significant decisions limiting the government’s regulatory powers. And it […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: July 2, Amelia Earhart disappears

Today in History Today is Saturday, July 2, the 183rd day of 2022. There are 182 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On July 2, 1937, aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first round-the-world flight along the equator. On this date: […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Baby’s father charged in slaying of stroller-pushing NYC mom

NEW YORK (AP) — The ex-boyfriend of a New York City woman shot dead Wednesday as she pushed their infant daughter in a stroller has been arrested and charged with killing her, police said Friday. Slain mother Azsia Johnson’s family identified suspect Isaac Argro as the baby’s father and said he routinely abused Johnson, beating […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Judge: Sheriff must post bail after anti-harassment order

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The sheriff of Pierce County, Washington, was ordered to post $100,000 bail while he awaits trial on false-reporting charges related to his controversial confrontation last year with a Black newspaper carrier. Judge Jeffrey Jahns on Friday imposed the bail — 10 times the amount requested by prosecutors — during a hearing […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Sheriff: People getting out of Texas trailer were work crew

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A group of people who were spotted getting in and out of a parked semitrailer in San Antonio were part of a work crew, not a human-smuggling operation, authorities said Friday. Authorities checked the vehicle after someone alerted a deputy constable to it, just days after 53 migrants died when they […]
23 hours ago
Lauren Wright, a Navy spouse whose family was sickened by jet fuel in their tap water, looks over w...
Associated Press

Distrust remains after Navy report on tainted Hawaii water

HONOLULU (AP) — Lauren Wright continues to be leery of the water coming out of the taps in her family’s U.S. Navy home in Hawaii, saying she doesn’t trust that it’s safe. Wright, her sailor husband and their three children ages 8 to 17 were among the thousands of people who were sickened late last […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Transgender athlete ban challenged in Utah lawsuit