“I do not believe that protecting the rights of women and girls to participate in athletics or recording objective facts constitute discrimination.” Idaho Governor Brad Little
On Monday, California banned all state-paid travel to Idaho following the state’s passage of two bills that discriminate against transgender individuals.
The 12th state with a state-funded travel ban in California
The two bills, Idaho House Bill 500 and House Bill 509, respectively ban transgender women who are biologically men, and girls who are biologically boys, from taking part in female schools and colleges and also prohibit people from changing their gender on their birth certificates.
After a prolonged battle in federal court and the reluctance of Idaho Governor Brad Little in overturning the bills, Idaho subsequently joined 11 other states on California’s “no state-paid travel” list based on transgender discrimination. The ban will include not only state agencies, departments, and other governmental travel, but also state university and college travel, including for NCAA athletics.
The bans have been enacted because of Assembly Bill 1887, a 2016 bill sponsored by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), that was signed by then-Governor Jerry Brown later that year. AB 1887 forbids all state-paid travel to states that have laws that discriminate ‘based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression’. While there are health and safety travel exceptions, they have otherwise withstood the test of the last several years, including a lawsuit by Texas earlier this year and states such as Oklahoma banning travel to California in turn.
Before Idaho, the last state to have been banned by California was Iowa in September of last year.
“Where states legislate discrimination, California unambiguously speaks out,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday. “The State of Idaho has taken drastic steps to undermine the rights of the transgender community, preventing people from playing sports in school or having documentation that reflects their identity. Let’s not beat around the bush: These laws are plain and simple discrimination. That’s why Idaho joins the list of AB 1887 discriminating states.”
Idaho fired back on Tuesday, with Governor Brad Little decrying the California decision while also defending Idaho’s new laws.
“I do not believe that protecting the rights of women and girls to participate in athletics or recording objective facts constitute discrimination,” said Governor Little in a statement.
NCAA eyes following California’s lead
Despite Idaho’s stance, as well as some support coming from U.S. Attorney General William Barr, many other states and the NCAA are now considering Idaho bans of their own. Idaho has much to lose with such bans, especially the the threat for the NCAA. Boise State is set to host several games in the 2021 NCAA men’s March Madness tournament, and the loss could further set back collegiate losses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Many Idaho lawmakers are now bracing for the sting in lost business due to the California ban, with some lawmakers in Idaho charging that the transgender bills took the places of other needed bills to help Idaho recover from the coronavirus and the economic downturn.
“Idaho made a major mistake here,” said western states transgender watchdog Paris Thomas. “Regardless of your view of the bills, the lost business, support, and the now-gone transgender support in Idaho hurts the state when it really needed a pick-me-up. And this comes almost immediately after the LGBT protections were ruled on in the Supreme Court.
As for the bills, denying people basic things like that when they switch over, it’s wrong. It’s not to prevent athletes from unfairly competing or anything. They just nailed it down for little reason.”
Others have argued for more of a state-view.
“It is Idaho’s decision, and like the bill stated, it was done out of fairness,” said Idaho legal advisor Charles Young. “California is trying to change other states minds by banning travel, and that’s just wrong. You’re hurting our state financially just because you don’t like a law we passed? Because you think it’s discriminatory to exclude those who weren’t born women from women’s sports? It seems callous for such a ‘caring’ state.”
The travel ban begins July 1st. The decision by the NCAA and other states on an Idaho ban will be announced soon.