BOISE – Two female athletes at Idaho State University want a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a new state law banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports, the first such law in the nation.
Madison Kenyon, 19, of Johnston, Colorado, and Mary Marshall, 20, of Twin Falls, Idaho, run track and cross country on scholarships at the university. Each said they’ve lost to a transgender athlete from the University of Montana and contend that transgender athletes are unfair competition.
Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom are representing the two athletes. They filed the request to side with the state of Idaho in fighting the lawsuit and are asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.
“Female defeat by a male athlete is uniquely demoralizing due to the elemental inequity involved in being subjected to the match-up in the first place,” court documents state. “Male intrusion represents the elimination from female sport of the relationship of effort to success that makes the draw of sport and competitive striving what it is.”
Republican Gov. Brad Little in May signed into law the measure that received overwhelming support in the Republican-dominated House and Senate but was universally opposed by Democrats. It takes effect July 1.
The ban applies to all teams sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities. A girls or women’s team will not be open to transgender students who identify as female.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Legal Voice in mid-April filed the lawsuit contending the law violates the U.S. Constitution because it is discriminatory and an invasion of privacy.
The groups also said the law is a violation of Title IX, the 1972 law that bars sex discrimination in education. The groups are asking the court to permanently prevent Idaho from enforcing the law.
Backers said the law, called the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, is needed because transgender female athletes have physical advantages.
They also cite Title IX, contending that allowing transgender athletes on girls and women’s teams would negate nearly 50 years of progress women have made since that law took effect and is credited with opening up sports to female athletes and along with it scholarships and other opportunities.
Specifically the lawsuit contends the law violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because it is discriminatory and the 4th Amendment’s protections against invasion of privacy because of tests required should an athlete’s gender be challenged.
Two plaintiffs are bringing the lawsuit. One is an unnamed Boise-area high school student who is cisgender. Cisgender refers to someone whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person was identified as having at birth.
The other is Lindsay Hecox, 19, who will be a sophomore this fall at Boise State University and hopes to qualify for the women’s cross country team. She competed on the boys team at a Moorpark, California, high school before transitioning after graduating.
The NCAA has a policy allowing transgender athletes to compete. But the sponsor of the Idaho law, Republican Barbara Ehardt, has called the NCAA policy “permissive.”
In February, the families of three Connecticut female high school runners filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block transgender athletes from participating in girls sports. The families contend that allowing athletes with male anatomy to compete has deprived their daughters of track titles and scholarship opportunities.
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