Idaho has given final legislative approval to a law that would ban males who identify as female from competing against girls and women in public school and college sports.
On Monday, the Idaho Senate passed the bill 24-11. The bill had passed the state House earlier, but it passed the House again Wednesday to conform to changes made by the Senate, according to the Idaho Press.
It’s unclear whether Republican Gov. Brad Little will sign or veto the legislation.
Participation by transgender athletes in female sports is a hot-button issue around the country.
In Connecticut, three female high school athletes have filed suit over that state’s policy of allowing athletes to compete based on gender identity and not biology. That lawsuit came after boys competing against girls have dominated track events.
Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood want to become defendants in a federal suit that seeks to block them from participating in girls sports in Connecticut. https://t.co/dVcMHpbE69
— NBC Out (@NBCOUT) February 23, 2020
The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act was sponsored in the Idaho House by Republican state Rep. Barbara Ehardt of Idaho Falls.
“Under this bill, boys and men will not be able to take the place of girls and women in sports because it is not fair,” Ehardt said, according to Reuters.
Females “simply cannot physically compete” against males “due to their inherent biological advantages,” she said.
Republican state Sen. Mary Souza, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said the issue was not discrimination, but to restore the balance in women’s sports.
“It started to level the playing field,” she said, according to the Idaho Statesman. “But now we are in a new crisis. Girls who have been struggling and training and competing in their sport are suddenly confronted by biological males.”
Female athletes “deserve a fair chance,” Souza said.
Under the legislation, if there is a dispute over whether an athlete is male or female, the student must “provide a health examination and consent form or other statement signed by the student’s personal health care provider.”
Although Idaho has not had any transgender disputes, Souza said the state could face a patchwork of local actions if it does not show leadership.
“It’s coming,” she said, according to the East Idaho News. “It’s a great time now for Idaho to set a consistent policy.”
Republican state Sen. Jim Rice said males can choke off competitive opportunities for females.
“I think that it is important to protect those opportunities for my granddaughters,” Rice said.
“This bill protects Title IX,” he said. “It doesn’t destroy it. It protects those opportunities.”
Mistie Tolman, Idaho state director for Planned Parenthood Votes, argued otherwise.
“It’s clear that our legislators are more interested in pushing their transphobia through the legislature, regardless of who it damages, than in listening to the facts,” Tolman said, according to the Idaho Press.
“We have worked to appeal to their sense of compassion for how transgender people will be treated, how they will be ostracized further by this legislation, and the very true danger this would pose to a population of their constituency that is already fighting against being othered,” she said. “Transgender people, and transgender youth in particular, just want to be able to live their lives free from harassment and with community, something that playing on the sports team that matches their identity has already provided them in Idaho for years.
“Today, instead of acknowledging their humanity, the Senate chose to give the trans community yet another cold shoulder.”
Trans girls are girls https://t.co/O5kODhTGli
— Mistie Tolman (@mistietolman) March 18, 2020
The NCAA and Idaho High School Activities Association currently require boys and men who wish to participate in sports as females to undergo a year of hormone therapy before competing, according to Boise State Public Radio.
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