BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Groups that advocate for civil and women’s rights have joined leading athletes in asking the NCAA to move 2,021 men’s basketball tournament matches from Idaho after the state passed a law banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports.
A letter sent Wednesday and signed by athletes including Megan Rapinoe, Billie Jean King, Jason Collins and Sue Bird asked the NCAA to take all championship events from Idaho. The first and second rounds of the men’s tournament are scheduled for next March at Boise State University.
The NCAA issued a statement that broke the law and previously banned events in North Carolina in 2016 after the passage of a law that excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from antidiscrimination protection across the state. The North Carolina law also requires transgender people to use toilets in schools and government buildings that are gender-appropriate in their birth certificates.
The North Carolina law was lifted a year later and the NCAA lifted its ban on events in the state.
“Transgender athletes are entitled to the same dignity and respect that is entitled to all NCAA athletes. Because of the HB 500, that’s not possible in Idaho, “said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive vice director for policy and action with the National Center for Transgender Equality. “We praise the NCAA for speaking out against the HB 500 and now encourage them to support their words with action.”
In March, Republican Governor Brad Little signed the Idaho move which received a lot of support in the Republican-dominated House and Senate, but there was no support from Democrats.
This prohibition applies to all sports teams sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities. The girl or girl team will not be open to transgender students who identify women.
Backers said that a law called the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act was needed because transgender female athletes had physical advantages.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Voice of Law have filed a lawsuit stating that the law violates the U.S. Constitution. because it is discriminatory and violates privacy.
The groups also said a law scheduled to take effect July 1 was a violation of Title IX, the 1972 law which prohibits sex discrimination in education.
Two plaintiffs brought suit. One of them is an unnamed Boise high school student who is a cisgender. Cisgender refers to someone whose gender identity matches the gender the person identified at birth.
The other is Lindsay Hecox, 19, who will be a sophomore this fall at Boise State and hopes to qualify for the women’s cross-country team. He competed in the boys’ team at Moorpark, California, before transitioning after graduation.
“Transgender people are everywhere – and that includes sports and in Idaho,” said Arli Christian, campaign strategist for ACLU. “While the lawsuit against the state of Idaho is moving through the courts, it is important for everyone to speak out so that Idaho – and other countries – see how misguided and dangerous this law is.”
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