Trial date set in lawsuit over Utah's ban on transgender student athletes

Posted at 3:30 PM, May 28, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — A judge has scheduled a trial date in a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on transgender girls participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

Third District Court Judge Keith Kelly scheduled a week long trial starting April 28, 2025 in the lawsuit brought by several transgender girls and their families against the Utah High School Activities Association and the Jordan and Granite school districts. They argue that Utah's ban unconstitutionally discriminates against them.

It is a bench trial, meaning the judge will hear the trial and render a verdict and not a jury.

"We are pleased to have a trial date and look forward to showing there is no justification for a complete ban on transgender students playing school sports, as the Utah Legislature itself recognized by anticipating that the ban would likely be struck down and setting up a commission to make individualized determinations," Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is among the law firms representing the plaintiffs, told FOX 13 News in a statement.

"As adults, we all remember what it is like to be excluded. Students look to adults for guidance and protection, and Utahns owe it to all students to create a system that is both fair and inclusive. As the judge in this case has already preliminarily held, a categorical ban goes too far and rests on overbroad generalizations. We are honored to represent the students and parents in this case and grateful for their courage in being willing to challenge this harmful law, which is out-of-step with Utah’s history of inclusion and fairness for all."

The Utah Attorney General's Office, which is representing the school districts, declined to comment on Tuesday.

Shortly after the Utah State Legislature passed a ban on transgender girls participating in school sports in 2022, Governor Spencer Cox issued a veto. He was overriden in a special session of the legislature. Then the lawsuit was filed. Judge Kelly granted a request for a temporary injunction, blocking the ban from being enforced. Under Utah law, it now defaults to a special commission that evaluates individual requests by transgender children who wish to participate in sporting activities with their school.

Utah has recently joined a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration's new rules that seek to offer more protections for transgender children in public schools.