A new Idaho law bans male public school students from competing against females even if they claim to be transgender.
The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brad Little on Monday alongside another bill that prohibits individuals from changing their gender on their birth certificate — mostly, the second bill’s supporters say, so that boys who identify as girls can’t alter them to compete in girls’ sports, according to The New York Times.
Idaho became the first state to enact legislation that stops biologically male transgender athletes from competing as females, even though plenty of states have seen such legislation introduced.
“Boys are boys and girls are girls,” state Sen. Lee Heider said two weeks ago, when the bills passed the state Senate.
“No doctor, no judge, no Department of Health and Welfare is going to change that reality.”
Specifically, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act applies to teams or sports sponsored by public schools “or any school that is a member of the Idaho high school activities association.”
“Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex,” the bill reads.
“Boys and men will not be able to take the place of girls and women in sports because it’s not fair,” Republican state Rep. Barbara Ehardt, the bill’s sponsor and a former NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach, told EastIdahoNews.com.
“We cannot physically compete against boys and men. The inherent biological, scientific advantages that boys and men have over girls and women, even if they were to take hormones, even if they were to spend a couple of years on estrogen, that’s not going to replace the inherent biological advantages that boys and men have.”
Ehardt said she’s been working on the bill since mid-2018 and added that it won’t stop transgender athletes from competing — they must simply do so under their birth gender.
“Those biological boys, those men, can still compete [in sports], it will just have to be with those who look like them, that have the same large heart and lungs,” she said.
Letting boys who identify as transgender play in girls’ sports isn’t a terribly popular proposition. According to a May 2019 Rasmussen poll, only 28 percent of respondents approved of “allowing transgender students to participate on the sports team of the gender they identify with,” while 54 percent were opposed to it. (Eighteen percent were undecided.)
Views likely haven’t had time to shift very far on that one, given that the poll is less than a year old.
“The undersigned businesses who are proud to call Idaho home write to express our opposition to” the legislation, their joint letter to Little said.
“We are committed to the principles of diversity, inclusion and acceptance. Our employees come from varying backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. Together, our individuality enriches our businesses. We are our employees.”
“Idaho’s well-earned reputation is consistent with our companies’ core values including a strong commitment that individuals have the same opportunities to live, work, and contribute to their communities like everyone else,” it continued.
“We strongly believe that House Bills 500 and 509 are not in line with those core values and are not representative of values of the state we enjoy living and working in. Put simply: we believe diversity and inclusion make our Idaho businesses, employees and communities stronger. With respect, we ask you to support all of Idaho’s diverse communities and reject these measures.”
However, Ehardt insisted her bill wasn’t “transphobic.”
“This has nothing to do with an anti-LGBT agenda.
This is all about providing the opportunity for girls and women to continue to compete just as our counterparts, boys and men, are able to compete,” she said, adding that she has worked alongside LGBT athletes.
I’m generally not terribly convinced by the “some of my best friends are X” argument — but in this case, it doesn’t matter.
Diversity and inclusion doesn’t mean trampling on the rights of high school athletes to be able to compete fairly. Even with one year of hormone treatment, as recommended by the Idaho High School Activities Association (the same as the NCAA’s policy), you still have biologically male athletes with bigger hearts, lungs and bone structures than female athletes.
The outrage isn’t that Idaho passed the bill, but rather that other states haven’t done the same, as well. One hopes they’ll follow Boise’s lead.
It may not make headlines right now, but its something that — if states have the legislative bandwidth — would be welcome for when students return to school in the fall.
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