Breaking an eight-day silence Tuesday, Gov. Brad Little said he signed two controversial transgender bills because it was the “right thing” to do.
In a telephone interview with Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press, Little called a transgender athletics ban a “common-sense” way of protecting a girl’s right to participate in school sports.
“I think that the issue is the girl’s right to participate without having to be concerned about who they’re competing with,” Little told Russell. “And that’s why I signed the bill.”
House Bill 500 — called the Fairness In Women’s Sports Act by its supporters — will ban transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ and women’s sports. The bill passed both houses largely along party lines, with opposition from a handful of Republicans.
HB 500 was the most controversial education bill of the 2020 legislative session, which ended March 20. Little, a Republican, signed the bill into law on March 30, but he had never commented on his decision before his post-session interview with Russell.
In the interview, Little said he expects his State Board of Education to write rules that will safeguard girls and women from humiliating appeals over athletic eligibility. He also said he weighed his decision against the lobbying from business leaders who urged him to veto HB 500, and seemed to downplay the myriad constitutional concerns raised by Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office.
“Well, he’s an independently elected constitutional officer and that’s his right,” Little told Russell.