NCAA Fans Demand No Events Be Held in Idaho Due to Transgender Athlete Law

A coalition of advocacy groups and athletes sent letters to the NCAA, asking that the state of Idaho be banned from hosting NCAA-sponsored events. The reason is a law limiting female transgender and intersex sports participation. Two LGBT athletes — tennis pro Billie Jean King and Olympic soccer star Megan Rapinoe — were among those that signed the letters to the NCAA.

Gov. Brad Little signed the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act" in March, which says, "athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex." It also allows girls and women to have their genitals checked if their biological sex is challenged. The law has sparked criticism from advocacy groups. At the same time, its sponsors argue the law protects women from having to compete against transgender athletes that could have a physical advantage during matches.

"It's incredibly important to me as a cisgender athlete to stand in support of the trans community," said NBA player Reggie Bullock in one of the letters to the NCAA. "This is personal to me because my slain transgender sister Mia would have wanted me to use my platform to advocate for trans athletes. Idaho's House Bill 500 is a tremendous step backwards for equality and for humanity. We need to be celebrating our trans athletes, not holding them back from playing the sport they love."

The letters specifically target the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament games, which are scheduled for March 18–20 at ExtraMile Arena in Boise. "Failure to move these events out of Idaho contradicts the NCAA's core values, your own policies and guidance, and implicitly endorses Idaho's discriminatory law," the student-athletes said in a letter. Two Boise State University students were among this group.

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The NCAA previously pulled championship games out of North Carolina due to transgender laws. The state passed a law in March 2016 that required transgender people to use the bathroom matching the sex on their birth certificate as opposed to their identity. The NCAA responded by disqualifying North Carolina from hosting neutral-site championship games in the 2016-17 academic year.

North Carolina repealed the law on March 30, 2016, but the state also approved a new measure banning cities from passing their own anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people until 2020. The latter move sparked criticism from civil rights advocates, but the NCAA considered returning to the state. They later placed men's basketball games in North Carolina, starting in the 2017-18 academic year and running through 2021-22.