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The landmark Idaho law signed late last month banning transgender women from participating in women’s sports is being challenged by a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

Two civil rights organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Legal Voice, jointly filed the suit, alleging the law violates Title IX of the Education Amendments Law passed in 1972. 

The Associated Press reports that the lawsuit also says the state law is unconstitutional, citing violations of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the Fourth Amendment's protections against invasions of privacy. 

Idaho passed the sports ban in late March, along with another controversial law preventing sex changes on birth certificates regardless of the gender identity of the individual. Both were signed by Gov. Brad Little (R) with the support of a Republican-majority state House and Senate.

The ban, called the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, applies to all teams associated with or sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities and cites “different athletic capabilities” between men and women. It is set to be enacted on July 1. 

The law and its supporters argue that transgender female athletes have physical advantages that “give them an unfair lead over girls in some sports.”

One of the law’s sponsors, state Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R), said that by allowing transgender athletes on girls’ and womens’ teams, progress made in the female sports arena with the inaction of Title IX would be undermined, per AP. 

Civil rights groups have condemned the law. The ACLU of Idaho said on Twitter that “transgender people have the right to participate in sports consistent with who they are, just like anyone. Denying this right is pure discrimination.”

Gabriel Arkles, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU, told the AP that the law “illegally targets women and girls who are transgender and intersex and subjects all female athletes to the possibility of invasive genital and genetic screenings.”

One of the two plaintiffs bringing the lawsuit forward is Lindsay Hecox, 19, a rising sophomore at Boise State University. She hopes to qualify for the women’s cross-country team after previously competing as a boy prior to her transition. 

I would like to compete as a female,” she said in an interview with the AP. “We shouldn’t have our privacy invaded. If people started questioning me, I wouldn’t want to be subjected to multiple tests.”


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Published on Apr 15, 2020