LOCAL NEWS

Groups plan to sue after expected override of transgender bill veto

Mar 23, 2022, 12:02 AM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 11:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Advocates for transgender youth announced Tuesday that lawsuits will be filed if the legislature overrides Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of the transgender sports ban.

“The Legislature betrayed our trust and blindsided the LGBTQ community in the final hours of the session,” Equality Utah wrote in a statement.

HB 11 bans transgender girls from female school sports and mandates the process for trans boys competing in sports.

In a press conference Tuesday, Speaker of the House Brad Wilson, R-Salt Lake City, was confident they’d have enough votes to reverse the veto made by Cox earlier in the day.

“This is us setting state policy around preserving girls’ sports,” he said. “This is not directed at anyone or any specific individuals.”

Wilson and Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, addressed last-minute changes to the bill, which Cox cited in a five-page veto letter as one of the main reasons he believes HB 11 is fundamentally flawed.

Those changes included the outright ban for female trans athletes in female sports, which troubled Cox and groups like Equality Utah.

“It is important to note that a complete ban was never discussed, never contemplated, never debated and never received any public input,” he wrote.

“Equality Utah worked in good faith with Rep. Birkeland and other stakeholders for the last year in an attempt to find common ground,” the organization wrote. “We met with Speaker Wilson and President Adams, and we were always assured we would find a path forward that would not include a ban. Never in our negotiations was a total ban discussed or considered.”

Birkeland said they have public support for the bill they have today, and the decision made was “not taken lightly.”

She said that she believes they can find a place and opportunities for trans youth.

“One of the things we care a lot about is competitive and safe women’s sports,” Wilson said.

If there is a cost to the state of Utah to do that, he added, then it is a policy that lawmakers are comfortable with.

Cox was not comfortable with that, saying specifically in his letter that any lawsuits could bankrupt the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA), and that individual schools have reached out to his office with concerns.

Equality Utah confirmed lawsuits will be filed.

“If we cannot find justice through our legislature, we will have no choice but to seek justice in our courts,” they stated.

David Spatafore, lobbyist for the UHSAA, said they will change their policy if the legislature overrides the veto, and asked the state to fund any litigation.

“We know that’s been litigated in all the other states, we know that there’s been a stay of action in all those other states,” Spatafore explained. “And so, what we have asked the legislature to do is, because it’s a ban that the legislature imposes, we would like the legislature to reimburse us, or to indemnify us so we don’t have any costs.”

The UHSAA hopes to get that promise of indemnity during a special session Cox called for Friday to address that very issue.

The session will take place right after the override vote.

Spatafore said of 72,000 student participants in activities, four are transgender students. One of those four is a female trans student.

Cox listed staggering statistics for transgender youth in his letter, including that 86% of trans youth report suicidality and 56% of trans youth have attempted suicide.

Those numbers were the final reason Cox refused to let HB 11 become law: Great kids who face enormous struggles, he wrote, who just want to be accepted and loved.

Dr. Candice Metzler (they/them/she/her), executive director for Transgender Education Advocates of Utah, agreed with those sentiments and said HB 11 sews division and seeds of self-hatred.

While Birkeland had expressed she believed HB 11 allows them to work together and move forward, Metzler felt it does the opposite and shows a lack of compassion.

They shared a message for trans youth, saying she hopes they know that people see them, care about them, and are here for them.

“My heart is breaking for these young people who continue to get a message that they don’t belong,” she said. “That we would fight so hard, we would call a special session, create this much fuss for these young people — who just want to grow up, and go to school, and have a future.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

3 vacant house fires spark in one week in SLC’s Ballpark neighborhood

Community frustrated after three fires broke out at the same row of vacant homes in Salt Lake City's Ballpark neighborhood in just the past week.
1 day ago
...
Shara Park

Memorial set up for woman killed in Provo hit and run

Yellow ribbons lined a Holladay neighborhood Friday in support of a family who lost a loved one in a hit and run crash in Provo.
1 day ago
FILE...
Michael Locklear

With so many kids sick, some Utah pharmacies run out of liquid Tylenol, ibuprofen

As parents deal with sick children, some are also facing another challenge. Some common medications can be hard to find, including liquid Tylenol and ibuprofen.
1 day ago
...
Mike Anderson

Hardware WMA sleigh rides return after two-year hiatus

For the first time in two years, sleigh rides up the Blacksmith Fork Canyon are back — where families can see herds of elk and get a winter meal.
1 day ago
Shop small to support local businesses...
Tamara Vaifanua

How shopping small this holiday season makes a big impact at local stores

There’s a big push this holiday season to shop small, as in small business. The locally owned, Tutoring Toy, right off Foothill Boulevard in Salt Lake City, has a lot to offer.
1 day ago
FILE: Attorney General of Utah Sean Reyes arrives onstage to pre-record his address to the Republic...
Bridger Beal-Cvetko

Qatar paid for Utah AG Sean Reyes’ trip to see U.S. World Cup match

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes spent the Thanksgiving weekend in Qatar, after the Middle Eastern country's government paid for his airfare, lodging and tickets to see the United States and England
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Groups plan to sue after expected override of transgender bill veto