High school activity group worried about impending lawsuit if transgender athlete’s veto ban is overturned

David Spatafore of the Utah High School Activities Association speaks during an Interim Health and Human Services Committee meeting at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Transgender youth participation in school sports was discussed at the meeting. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah High School Activities Association is concerned about footing the bill if a lawsuit comes against HB 11. The bill, amended on the last day and in the final hours of the legislature, bars transgender girls from playing women’s sports in Utah.

Governor Spencer Cox vetoed the bill on Tuesday afternoon.

Where is the association

As it stands, in the event of a lawsuit, the UHSAA would foot the bill. While the association says it remains neutral in its stance on the bill, it cannot afford to fight a lawsuit.

“Our position on House Bill 11 has been a neutral position,” spokesman David Spatafore said. “Currently, we have a transgender student policy that we administer and oversee. And it has proven itself.

Spatafore says the group will follow whatever policy the governor and lawmakers decide, but they want compensation. The association wants to protect itself from possible legal proceedings that could result from the bill.

“If the bill is vetoed and overturned, we would be concerned if there was no compensation,” Spatafore said. “If there’s a special session that would change the bill that would provide compensation, then that’s fine too.”

Spatafore added that the UHSAA would administer the policy assigned to it.

The governor said if lawmakers overturn his veto, he would call them back to another special session to ensure the UHSAA is compensated.

How UHSAA works

UHSAA serves approximately 150 schools that join the association – each of the 150 pays to participate in association tournaments, and this is how UHSAA obtains its funding.

Spatafore reports that approximately 72,000 students participate in activities in these 150 schools. Students participating in multiple activities – which include debate, speech and drama – could be counted twice.

Four of these students are transgender. One of them does women’s sports.



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