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Freezing Idaho’s transgender athlete ban faces new challenges

By on November 27, 2021 0

Idaho’s Women’s Sports Fairness Act, which prohibits transgender women and girls from competing in college and K-12 women’s and women’s sports teams, has not been active for over a year so that it is being challenged in court. Now advocates are pushing a federal district court to unfreeze the application.

The legal challenge, filed in the case of Hecox v. Little, led a judge to freeze or ban the ban in August 2020 in order to avoid “irreparable” harm to two student-athletes who launched the protest. But in June, a higher court remanded or remanded the case to a lower court, as the two students were no longer enrolled in their perspective schools and would not be immediately affected by the law. As stakeholders present written arguments to this lower court this month, the near-term fate of Idaho’s law may hinge on whether a judge judges one of these athletes, a transgender woman named Lindsay Hecox, still has an interest in the case.

The Idaho attorney general’s office, responsible for defending the law, says no. Hecox withdrew from Boise State University a week after trying unsuccessfully for the women’s cross country team last school year, rendering his claims moot, argued a brief filed earlier this this month by the Attorney General.

“For more than a year, the preliminary injunction violated Idaho’s sovereignty while bringing no relief to Hecox,” the brief read.

But Hecox has already signed up for the 2022 spring semester courses, with plans to play women’s football in the spring and try again for the cross-country team in the fall, her lawyers wrote in. a brief in response. It is therefore possible that it will be affected by the ban again if it is applied.

“Lindsay’s case should not be dismissed as moot unless it is” absolutely clear that Lindsay will never again be subject to (the law) “,” lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho and two law firms.

The second woman listed in the case is Kayden Hulquist, a cisgender footballer who feared she would have to undergo invasive medicals to verify her gender when she was playing for Boise High School. Hulquist, called Jane Doe when she was a minor, has since graduated. This is another reason why the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals referred the case to a district court to unravel the mootness challenge going on before the case went ahead.

Now the challengers and advocates of the law are focused on Hecox.

Lawyers representing two cisgender runners for the Idaho State University women’s cross country team have questioned Hecox’s ability to make the BSU team on a second attempt and, as a result, the harm that the ban would cause him. In a brief, lawyers said Hecox’s claims were “contingent and speculative” as a result. (These attorneys include Skaug Law State Representative Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, and former Representative Raúl Labrador, who is running against incumbent Lawrence Wasden to be Idaho’s next Attorney General.)

But Hecox lawyers argue that his more recent plans to play club football are also a key interest. And despite the doubt cast by Wasden’s office, her attorneys say she is better equipped financially and emotionally to handle the burdens of college that caused her to retire now that she’s on track to get cheaper tuition fees this spring.

Wasden’s office urged the court to dismiss Hecox’s requests in the meantime and allow her to ask for the law to be frozen again if she stays on the list and makes the fall cross country team. next. The court’s next response could determine whether the ban on transgender athletes is activated in a school year for the first time since it was passed.

The attorney general has also been active in defending the ban nationwide. Wasden’s office signed a conflicting letter with the Biden administration over protecting transgender students in July this year, and joined a related lawsuit in August. Wasden’s office cited its stake in Hecox v. Little by doing both steps.

The Women’s Sports Fairness Act was passed by a qualified majority of Republicans in the Legislature in 2020 after the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit organization in Arizona that represents athletes in the ISU in Hecox v. Little, helped legislators develop it.

Enforcement of the law was banned approximately two months after it came into force on June 1 of the same year.

The fate of the law remains uncertain more than a year later. After the district court stops accepting response briefs on December 3, it may schedule a hearing to address the mootness issue, Attorney General spokesman Scott Graf told EdNews via email. “This would obviously push a decision further,” he wrote.