It 'Isn’t Fair': Female Athletes Ask Court to Uphold Idaho Law Banning Boys in Girls’ Sports

Michael Foust | Contributor | Thursday, September 17, 2020
It 'Isn’t Fair': Female Athletes Ask Court to Uphold Idaho Law Banning Boys in Girls’ Sports

It 'Isn’t Fair': Female Athletes Ask Court to Uphold Idaho Law Banning Boys in Girls’ Sports

Two Idaho State University female athletes filed an appeal Wednesday in defense of an Idaho state law that prevents biological males who identify as female from competing on girls’ or women’s teams.

A federal judge last month overturned the law, known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.

The two athletes, Madison Kenyon and Mary Kate Marshall, run track and cross country at Idaho State in Pocatello. They are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed a notice of appeal Wednesday with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Males and females both should have the chance to enjoy opportunities for fair competition and victory,” Kenyon said in a news release. “Allowing males to enter our sports isn’t fair. It changes everything because it eliminates the connection between an athlete’s effort and her success. Idaho’s law helps make sure that, when women like me work hard, that hard work pays off, and we have a shot at winning.”

The law requires biological sex, and not gender identity, to be used in determining who plays on high school and college teams. Idaho lawmakers said the law was necessary because of what has happened not only in Idaho but elsewhere, including Connecticut, where two biological boys who identify as girls won 15 state track titles.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against the law on behalf of a transgender female athlete at Boise State University and a female athlete at Boise High School.

U.S. District Judge David C. Nye, in an 87-page opinion in August, issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law. He said the plaintiffs “likely” will “succeed in establishing the Act is unconstitutional as currently written.”

Nye allowed Kenyon and Marshall to intervene in the case. Idaho Gov. Bradley Little, who signed the law, is the named defendant.

“I’ve benefited personally from sports and I want other young women to enjoy the same opportunities and benefits that I have,” Marshall said.

ADF says the “difference in strength and speed” between males and females underscores the necessity of the law.

“Women deserve to compete on a level playing field. Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports diminishes women’s athletic opportunities and destroys fair competition,” ADF legal counsel Christiana Holcomb said in a news release. “The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act is both consistent with Title IX and constitutionally sound because it seeks to protect women and girls across Idaho. Nothing in the Constitution requires a state to abandon fairness for girls to give special treatment to males who want to compete in girls’ sports. Our clients have already had the deflating experience of losing to a male athlete, and we’re appealing to the 9th Circuit because this injustice should not be allowed to continue.”

The Trump Justice Department is defending the law.


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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jacob Lund

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

It 'Isn’t Fair': Female Athletes Ask Court to Uphold Idaho Law Banning Boys in Girls’ Sports