Idaho Governor Brad Little, a
Republican, on Monday quietly signed two bills that restrict the
rights of people who identify as transgender.
Little signed the legislation as the
United States takes over as the country with the most coronavirus
cases and government officials warned that as many as 200,000
Americans might die from the pandemic.
House Bill 500 bans transgender women
and girls from playing on female high school and college sports
teams. The legislation applies to all publicly sponsored sports
Supporters of the bill said that it is
needed because transgender women and girls have a physical advantage.
Opponents argued that the bill subjects transgender athletes to
The bill, titled the “Fairness in
Women's Sports Act,” was sponsored by Senator Mary Souza and
Representative Barbara Ehardt.
Ehardt, a Republican, worked with the
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to craft the bill. The Arizona-based
group is opposed to LGBT rights.
According to the Idaho
Press, when asked about the bill's constitutional problems
that would make it difficult to defend in court, Senator Souza, a
Republican, said that the ADF “will be responsible for any legal
The second bill, the “Idaho Vital
Statistics Act” or House Bill 509, makes it impossible for
transgender people to change their gender marker on a birth
In 2018, a judge issued a court order
requiring Idaho to allow transgender individuals to change the gender
marker on their birth certificates.
Peter Renn at Lambda Legal said in a
statement that lawmakers were “explicitly defying a court order and
exposing Idaho taxpayers to footing the bill” for its legal
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, had called on Little to veto
the bills. In a statement, the group called the bills “heinous.”
“Idaho is leading the way in
anti-transgender discrimination, and at a time when life is hard
enough for everyone, Idaho's elected leaders will be remembered for
working to make their transgender residents' lives even harder,”
HRC President Alphonso David said. “Shame on Gov. Little and the
legislators who championed these heinous pieces of legislation.”
With Little's signature, Idaho becomes
the first state in the nation with a law restricting transgender
participation in high school and college sports.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights
(NCLR) has said that it plans to file lawsuits challenging both laws.