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Montana Judge Declares College Trans Ban Unconstitutional

2021 law barring transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity is unconstitutional. On Sept. 14, Gallatin County District Judge Rienne McElyea issued an injunction permanently barring the state from enforcing a provision in the law that prohibits transgender athletes from participating on collegiate-level women’s sports teams.McElyea found that, in passing the law, the state’s Republican-led Legislature infringed on the constitutional authority of the Montana Board of Regents, which is allowed to make its own policies governing college campuses.The ruling does not overturn part of the law prohibiting transgender athletes in grades K-12 from competing in sports that match their gender identity.In her ruling, McElyea rejected the state’s argument that the Board of Regents had no existing policies regarding athlete participation, finding that the board’s decision to comply with NCAA regulations on transgender participation was in itself a policy, reports the Helena Independent Record.“Contrary to the state’s characterization, the Board’s policy is not a delegation of the Board’s constitutional authority to a non-governmental body [NCAA], but an exercise of the Board’s authority to ensure the eligibility of Montana athletes and to protect the [Montana University System’s] substantial financial investment in its athletics programs,” she wrote.Current NCAA policy on transgender athletes allows each individual sports’ national governing body to determine its own criteria for eligibility.

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