ALL NEWS

Gov. Cox signals he won’t sign bill barring transgender girls from female sports without some changes

Feb 18, 2021, 2:26 PM
Governor Spencer Cox - Utah vaccination rates...
FILE: Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at a COVID-19 briefing at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. Photo: Jeffrey Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite its passage through the Utah House of Representatives, a controversial bill that would bar transgender girls from playing in female sports may not make its way into law without some changes. Gov. Spencer Cox, who is the last stop in a bill’s journey to becoming law, said Thursday he would not sign the legislation as-is. 

Instead, it needs some changes before he grants approval. 

“I’m not in a place yet where I’m comfortable with the bill as it stands right now,” Cox said during his monthly news conference with PBS Utah. “Those discussions are ongoing. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Utah bill would bar transgender girls from female sports

HB302, which passed through the House Wednesday, would require schools to label athletic activities in one of three ways: “male” or “boys”; “female” or “girls”; or as “coed” or “mixed.” Participation would be based on “the biological, physical condition of being male or female, determined by an individual’s genetics and anatomy at birth.” 

Schools that choose not to comply could be faced with legal consequences, according to the legislation. This prompted concerns among some legal experts, arguing the law would not be upheld in the Supreme Court. 

Opponents argue the bill would further isolate LGBTQ+ youth in Utah, who may already feel discriminated against in the more conservative state. Cox agreed, offering an emotional response to the legislation during the PBS Utah conference. 

“These kids are … they’re just trying to stay alive,” Cox said, tearing up. “There’s a reason none of them are playing sports … I just think there’s a better way. And I hope that there will be enough grace in our state to find a better solution.”

Gov. Cox offers support after years of evolving views

The governor’s reaction comes after years of evolving views on LGBTQ issues. 

After the deadly shooting at an Orlando nightclub in 2016, Cox gave a speech urging acceptance of those who are of different identities. He acknowledged he hasn’t always been accepting, recalling memories from his childhood where he bullied classmates he later found out were gay. 

“I regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity and respect, the love that they deserved,” Cox said in his 2016 speech. “For that, I sincerely and humbly apologize.”

Cox reflected on this speech years later during his campaign for governor last summer, noting the state had made much progress. However, he acknowledged Republicans “haven’t done a great job of being inclusive and broadening the tent but some of us are trying really hard.”

HB302, titled “Preserving Sports for Female Students,” is among the most controversial bills making its way through the Utah Legislature this session. 

After a heated debate Wednesday, the bill passed the House and is on its way to the Senate for consideration. 

Today’s Top Stories

All News

After six years leading USU, and an overall 32 year career with the school, President Noelle E. Coc...
Simone Seikaly

USU President Noelle E. Cockett will step down

USU President Noelle E. Cockett has been part of the college's community for 32 years.
2 months ago
A national survey finds Utah the third safest state when it comes to drunk driving fatalities....
Simone Seikaly

Utah one of the leading states for low levels of drunk driving

SALT LAKE CITY — Forbes Advisor has ranked American states to determine which have the highest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes. Their results put Utah third in the nation for the lowest rate of drunk driving. The District of Columbia and New Jersey each ranked higher than Utah when considering this data. […]
2 months ago
free transit rides...
Elizabeth Weiler

Free public transit rides come to Heber Valley

HEBER CITY, Utah — In the summer of 2022, Wasatch County Council approved a sales tax which is now providing funding for free public transit rides throughout Heber Valley.  Wasatch County and High Valley Transit entered a three-year, $3 million agreement to offer public bus transit services between Wasatch and Summit Counties, along with micro-transit […]
2 months ago
carbon monoxide poisoning...
Ali Litzinger

Carbon monoxide poisoning on the rise in winter months

SALT LAKE CITY — Winter is approaching and officials want people to know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Last year, nearly 200 Utahns were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.  The flame in a gas appliance should generally be blue, with some orange. If the flame is mostly yellow, it’s giving off excess carbon monoxide.  […]
2 months ago
nichole olsen was shot and killed outside a nightclub in dowtown salt lake city over the weekend....
Elizabeth Weiler

Man arrested for murder in weekend shooting outside nightclub in Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY — A Southern Utah man has been arrested and booked into jail in connection with the shooting death of a Salt Lake City woman over the weekend. Nichole Olsen, 29, was shot and killed outside a nightclub near 300 S. West Temple in Salt Lake City around 2 a.m. Sunday. Police have […]
2 months ago
A “for sale” sign is displayed outside of a house in Layton. 
Photo: Shafkat Anowar, Deseret Ne...
Adam Small

Salt Lake seeing highest drop in home sales, national report finds

Utah's home sales are dropping fast according to a new national report. Prices have dropped by 48% in the last 12 months.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Gov. Cox signals he won’t sign bill barring transgender girls from female sports without some changes