A total of 15 Republican lawmakers – 10 state Representatives and five state senators – flipped to support the bill.
Gov. Spencer Cox earlier this week vetoed the measure, H.B. 11, that “[prohibits] a student of the male sex from competing against another school on a team designated for female students.”
The measure will now go into effect July 1, making Utah the 12th state to enact some form of a ban on transgender athletes in school sports. The other 11 states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
Cox’s veto on March 22 came just a day prior to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of a similar bill in his state.
In his veto letter, Cox expressed several concerns over the bill, chief among them that there was a “hastily adopted amendment” to explicitly exclude local schools in Utah from indemnification. He said if the measure was passed in this version, it could “result in millions of dollars in legal fees for local school districts with no state protection.”
Cox called for a special session on March 25 to let lawmakers consider amending the ban to include financial protection to the government.
The governor said in a statement late on March 25, “I am grateful the Legislature recognized that there were serious flaws with HB11 and for the heightened debate and input legislators were able to receive over the past few weeks.
“I called a Special Session today to fix at least one flaw in the bill, and 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.
“I remain hopeful that we will continue to work on a more inclusive, fair, and compassionate policy during the interim.”
H.B. 11 had a provision whereby if a court were to invalidate the measure’s blanket ban on transgender children in girls’ sports, a commission would be created to allow transgender youth to play in girls’ sports if the commission approves. Such a commission would be the first of its kind in the nation.
Originally, the “School Activity Eligibility Commission” would have been readily available and not conditioned on a court ruling before it is created. Cox cited the last minute amendment to the commission’s existence as among the reasons for his veto, saying at the time: “I feel a veto is necessary to improve the process and to better allow the public an opportunity to weigh in.”
Utah currently has one transgender youth playing in girls sports in K-12 schools who would be affected by the ban.