The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in Idaho federal court on Friday, stating a new law there that would prevent biological males from participating in women’s sports is fine because biological women are protected under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
The law is being challenged by the ACLU on behalf of a transgender “female” who wants to try to join the Boise State University women’s cross country team.
In Idaho, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act was signed into law on March 30, 2020. It goes into effect in July 2020. It essentially says that biological males, even if they gender identify as women, are not allowed to participate on women’s sports teams. Critics have called the law the “anti-transgender bill.”
“Allowing biological males to compete in all-female sports is fundamentally unfair to female athletes” said Attorney General William P. Barr in a June 19 statement. “Under the Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause allows Idaho to recognize the physiological differences between the biological sexes in athletics.”
“Because of these differences, the Fairness Act’s limiting of certain athletic teams to biological females provides equal protection,” said Barr. “This limitation is based on the same exact interest that allows the creation of sex-specific athletic teams in the first place — namely, the goal of ensuring that biological females have equal athletic opportunities.”
“Single-sex athletics is rooted in the reality of biological differences between the sexes and should stay rooted in objective biological fact,” he added.
The law has two major provisions: “First, covered athletic teams ‘shall be expressly designated as one (1) of the following based on biological sex: (a) Males, men, or boys; (b) Females, women, or girls; or (c) Coed or mixed.”
“Second, ‘[a]thletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex,” states the law.
The law further states that “[h]aving separate sex specific teams furthers efforts to promote sex equality. Sex-specific teams accomplish this by providing opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their skill, strength, and athletic abilities while also providing them with opportunities to obtain recognition and accolades, college scholarships, and the numerous other long-term benefits that flow from success in athletic endeavors.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. The case is on behalf of the transgender “female” Lindsay Hecox who will “soon finish her freshman year at Boise State University, and she plans to try out for the Boise State cross country team in August 2020,” states the lawsuit.
The ACLU claims that the Idaho law deprives Hecox of Equal Protection and Due Process under the 14th Amendment and the 4th Amendment.
In its statement of interest, the DOJ said “the Constitution does not require Idaho to provide the special treatment plaintiffs request, under which biological males are allowed to compete against biological females if and only if the biological males are transgender.”