Judge grants injunction allowing transgender girls opportunity to compete in high school sports

Aug 19, 2022, 9:10 AM | Updated: 6:53 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A Third District Court judge has granted an injunction that halts enforcement of a new Utah law that bans transgender girls from competing in high school sports.

Judge Keith Kelley issued the written order granting the injunction Friday morning.

“My husband and I are very relieved by this decision,” said Debbie Roe, a parent plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We are grateful the court understood how much harm this law has caused, which has been a huge source of stress and trauma for our child. Our daughter just wants the same chance as other kids to make friends and play on the team she loves. Today’s ruling gives her the opportunity to do that.”

Under the injunction, transgender girls can compete in high school sports “only when it is fair, as confidentially determined by a Legislature-created commission.”

Lawmakers said a seven-member School Activity Eligibility Commission will now go into effect to determine transgender participation in K-12 gender-designated school sports. 

“Utah had the foresight to create a first-of-its-kind solution, a data-driven commission that will help ensure female athletes can continue to compete in a fair environment,” Senate President J. Stuart Adams said. “With the commission, we are aiming to protect equitable and safe competition while preserving the integrity of women’s sports. The commission will be constituted in the coming weeks.”   

Members of the commission will include:

  • Medical data statistician
  • Physician with expertise in gender identity healthcare
  • Sports physiologist
  • Mental health professional
  • Athletic trainer who serves student-athletes on the collegiate level
  • Representative of an athletic association
  • Rotating member who is a coach or official in the sport relevant to a particular case the commission considers

“I was ecstatic,” Sue Robbins with Equality Utah’s Transgender Advisory Council said of Friday’s ruling.

Robbins said the preliminary injunction increases the likelihood that the ban will be overturned. She said she still sees problems with the commission.

“They’re going to have to face down these adults and have to defend themselves and their ability to play in sports,” Robbins said. “So every step of the way, we are causing harm to our transgender youth and we’re giving them great barriers.”

Friday’s ruling was on the injunction only, not the case.

The lawsuit was filed in May by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and advocacy groups on behalf of two families of transgender girls against the Utah High School Activities Association, Granite School District, Jordan School District and superintendents from those districts.

It claims HB11, a bill passed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session, is causing psychological harm and lost opportunities.

The bill was initially vetoed by Gov. Spencer Cox, but the Utah Legislature overturned the veto. Later, another bill passed, which indemnifies school districts and the state’s activities association from lawsuits associated with HB11.

With his veto, Cox cited that 86% of transgender youth experience suicidality and 56% of transgender youth attempt suicide.

“Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That’s what all of this is about,” he said with his March veto.

Tracking similarities in transgender sports bans across the country

This is a breaking story. It will be updated.

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Judge grants injunction allowing transgender girls opportunity to compete in high school sports