On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in federal district court in support of Idaho's "Fairness in Women's Sports Act," a newly enacted law that protects female athletes from being forced to compete against males who identify as female.
The American Civil Liberties Union wasted almost no time in challenging the constitutionality of HB 500 after Governor Brad Little signed the bill on March 30. The ACLU filed the suit in early April on behalf of a biologically male athlete at Boise State University who identifies as female and goes by the name "Lindsay Hecox." The ACLU contends that prior to the new law, Idaho already had one of the most restrictive policies in the country regulating participation of transgender athletes in high school athletics. (See earlier article)
In response, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion on behalf of two female athletes who want to intervene in the ACLU's lawsuit. Madison Kenyon and Mary Kate Marshall run track and cross-country at Idaho State University in Pocatello. Both are longtime athletes who, according to ADF attorney Christiana Holcomb, are very familiar with the differences in strength and speed between comparably gifted and trained male and female athletes.
"Both of these female athletes actually have competed against a biological male and lost to that male athlete in the women's category, so they know exactly how dissuading and defeating it feels to lose to a male athlete," she shares.
According to Holcomb, the ACLU's lawsuit came as no surprise. "The ACLU has threatened all along to sue any state that would pass a fairness in women's sports act – and I think that's really unfortunate because the laws are designed to protect the integrity of women's sports."
The Department of Justice filed its statement of interest with the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho in Hecox v. Little. The ADF attorney commends the DOJ for supporting a level playing field for female athletes, as well as for showing support for a law that seeks to protect equal athletic opportunities for girls and women across Idaho.
"The DOJ correctly points out that the Constitution's 'Equal Protection Clause allows Idaho to recognize the average physiological differences between the biological sexes in athletics' and to refuse to give special treatment to males who demand access to girls' teams," Holcomb explains.
"By protecting all-girls' sports, the state is ensuring that female athletes continue to enjoy equal opportunities to compete for and enjoy the life-long benefits that flow from school athletics," the attorney continues. "That's good news for our clients and all female athletes who simply seek fairness in sports."
The law is to take effect July 1, though the ACLU lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction to prevent that.
ADF also represents four female athletes in a federal lawsuit in Connecticut, where policy allows males who identify as female to compete in girls' athletic events.