Utah Legislature Overrides Governor Cox’s Veto of HB11

Sienna Yang, Pawprint Staff Reporter

House Bill 11, or HB0011, is a bill passed by legislation banning transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams in middle and high school. Initially, it was a bill “evaluating whether a transgender athlete could participate in a school sport,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Kim Bojorquez and Brian Schott. 

However, just a few hours before midnight, it was hastily amended to what it’s known for now: a complete ban on transgender girls’ participation in sports. 

In a letter addressed to the state legislature, Utah Governor Spencer Cox stated that the teenager’s mental health was one of the most important reasons he chose to veto the bill.

“Here are the numbers that have most impacted my decision: 75,000, 4, 1, 86 and 56.

● 75,000 high school kids participating in high school sports in Utah.

● Four transgender kids are playing high school sports in Utah.

● One transgender student is playing girls’ sports.

● 86% of trans youth are reporting suicidality.

● 56% of trans youth have attempted suicide.”

“Four kids and only one of them playing girls’ sports… Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live,” Cox continued.

Cox also stated that even though the bill would force the regulations to be made by the Utah High School Athletic Association (UHSAA), it gives no financial support to it, leading to bankruptcy and lawsuits under the bill. 

On the other hand, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Kera Birkeland, said, “I truly believe we’re here to uphold Title IX, preserve the integrity of women’s sports, and do so in a way unlike other states.” 

Representative Judy Weeks Rohner added to the idea. “We are here to make good policy; we are here to protect children. We are here to protect all children,” she stated.

On March 25, Utah Legislature overrode the veto, with the House voting 56-18 and the Senate voting 21-8. After the vote, Cox released a statement saying that he’s “grateful the Legislature recognized that there were serious flaws with HB11… we’re heartened that the Legislature agreed to indemnify school districts and the Utah High School Activities Association from the enormous financial burden that inevitable litigation will have on them.”

The bill is set to take effect on July 1, 2022.