Idaho took another step toward banning transgender females from competing in girls’ high school or women’s college sports.
According to the Idaho Press, the Idaho Senate voted 24-11 Monday to pass the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” requiring athletes to compete as their biological gender. The Senate made amendments to the bill, so it will return to the House of Representatives before being sent to Gov. Brad Little.
Supporters of the bill say that they are defending girls from unfair competition.
“This bill is truly all about continuing opportunities, not taking away opportunities,” said Idaho Falls Republican Barbara Ehardt, a former college basketball coach, when she introduced the bill in February. “It’s helped me with leadership, with confidence, with conflict resolution. Sports has done so much for me.”
If Little eventually signs the bill into law, teams in Idaho must be designated as male, female or coed. Student-athletes’ physical anatomy, genetic makeup and testosterone levels will be used to place them on teams. The bill says that students’ biological sex may be verified as “part of a routine sports physical examination.”
“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 facts,” said Mistie Tolman, the Idaho State director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, which has asked Little to veto the bill. “We have worked to appeal to their senses of compassion for how transgender people will be treated, how they will be ostracized further by this legislation.
“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.”
If there’s a dispute over a student-athlete’s gender, the athlete would need to provide a statement from their physician. Republican Sen. Jim Guthrie, who voted against the bill, said disputes over gender wouldn’t be private and would negatively impact girls who have to pay for a doctor to examine them.
There are a number of similar bills proposed across the United States, including in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Washington.
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Idaho is one of several in which the bill is backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom.
“There is a third-party group that has been working with us on this bill and it will be responsible for any legal defense fees,” Sen. Mary Souza, who sponsored the bill in the Idaho Senate, said when opponents of the bill noted that an Idaho attorney general found it to have constitutional issues.
According to Transathlete.com, 17 states allowed transgender athletes to compete without restrictions in 2019.