Idaho bill would ban transgender athletes from playing on female teams

Posted at 3:13 PM, Feb 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-13 11:58:37-05

BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho lawmaker wants to ban transgender women athletes from participating in sports that align with their gender identity.

The bill by Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt was introduced Wednesday in the House Education Committee, Boise State Public Radio reported. It must undergo a public hearing before the committee will vote on whether to send it to the full House.

It could add significant complications for state colleges and universities that are members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NCAA requires its members to allow transgender athletes to participate in sports that align with their gender identity.

Transgender men may do so immediately, while transgender women must undergo testosterone suppression therapy for a year before competing.

Ehardt said transgender athletes are acting as a “roadblock” to girls and women who want to play sports with their peers. Her bill would prevent someone who was assigned male gender at birth but who identifies as female from playing on a sports team as a woman. Transgender men -- assigned female gender at birth but who identify as male -- would be exempt from restrictions.

Rep. Steve Berch, a Boise Democrat, tried to block the introduction of the bill, but failed.

“This is an issue that’s so far down the priority list that we have in this state facing education. I just don’t think this is where we should be spending our time at this time,” Berch said.

Similar legislation has been proposed in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Washington state, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The measures are part of a national campaign backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative religious freedom group based in Scottsdale, Arizona.