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Utah House Bill 11

Utah House Bill 11

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Utah House Bill 11 (hereinafter referred to as “H.B. 11”) addresses student athlete participation in sex-designated sports in the public education system.

H.B. 11 became effective on July 1, 2022, and it imposes limits on individuals wanting to participate in female sports by,

  1. requiring schools and local education agencies to designate athletic activities by sex (such as girls’ basketball, men’s volleyball, etc.);
  2. prohibiting a student of the male sex from competing against another school on a team designated for female students;
  3. prohibiting certain complaints or investigations based on a school or local education agency maintaining separate athletic activities for female students; and
  4. providing severability.

A public school, local education agency, or a private school that competes against a public school or local education agency, shall expressly designate school athletic activities and teams as one of the following, based on sex:

  1. Designated for students of the male sex;
  2. designated for students of the female sex; or
  3. coed or mixed;

A student of the male sex may not compete—and a public school or local education agency may not allow a student of the male sex to compete—with a team designated for students of the female sex in an interscholastic athletic activity.

Essentially this bill bans transgender students from being able to compete in sports against the sex they transitioned into and which they believe themselves to be.

However, there are ways a transgender person can be deemed eligible to play sports against the opposite biological sex.


A School Activity Eligibility Commission can determine the eligibility of a student to compete.

The commission consists of,

  1. a mental health professional and statistician with expertise in the analysis of medical data (these positions are appointed by the president of the Senate);
  2. a board-certified physician with expertise in gender identity healthcare;
  3. a sports physiologist;
  4. a representative of an athletic association and athletic trainer who serves student athletes on the collegiate level (these positions are appointed by the governor);
  5. one ad hoc member, serving on a case-by-case basis, who is appointed by the athletic association in which the relevant student’s school competes; and
  6. a certified high school coach or official who coaches or officiates in a separate region or classification from the relevant student’s school and in the sport in which the relevant student seeks eligibility.[1]

This commission meets and discusses the cases in which eligibility must be determined.

The commission must create baseline ranges that include the physical characteristics for the age and gender group in a given gender-designated interscholastic activity. These physical characteristics can include height, weight, physical characteristics, and physical characteristics affected by puberty.[2]

Without approval by the commission, a student cannot participate in sport activities against the sex biologically opposite from the sex they were born as.


According to the American Psychological Association,[3] the word “transgender” is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex they were determined to be at birth. Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense and belief regarding identifying themselves as a male, a female, or something else.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against H.B. 11.

Specifically, the lawsuit challenges Part 9 of H.B. 11, which prohibits all transgender girls (i.e., individuals born as males but who later transitioned into females) from competing on a girls’ team in K-12 interscholastic school sports.[4]

The ACLU filed this lawsuit because H.B. 11 has already directly impacted some Utah families.

The ACLU’s argument is that H.B. 11 violates multiple provisions of the Utah State Constitution because it singles out a specific group for their identity. In other words, transgender athletes are being discriminated against by being prohibited from participating in sports against the sex they believe themselves to be.

The ACLU also argues that there was only a handful of transgender athletes to begin with, and that there was no evidence that the existing policy was problematic.

Governor Spencer Cox originally vetoed H.B. 11, but the Utah Legislature voted to override the veto.

Before the vote, the bill sponsor, Representative Kera Birkeland, said that H.B. 11 is purely about preserving women’s sports.[5]

H.B. 11 still allows transgender students to compete in sports after going through the eligibility committee process.


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[1] Utah Code § 53G-6-1003.

[2] Id.

[3] American Psychological Association, Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (2014),

[4] The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, FAQ ON HB 11 AND OUR LEGAL COMPLAINT, (last visited Jan. 31, 2023).

[5] Kera Birkeland, Homepage, (last visited Jan. 31, 2023).

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