Arizona advances bill banning transgender girls from school sports as Idaho introduces one

·3 min read
Teenage runner kneeling on starting block, close up
More states are advancing legislation aimed at preventing transgender girls from competing on women's teams. (Getty Images)

Within a span of 24 hours, two more states made advancements in legislation aimed to ban transgender girls and women athletes from participating in the sport that aligns with their gender identity.

In Idaho, Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt introduced a bill Wednesday in the House Education Committee, per Boise State Public Radio. There will be a public hearing before it can be sent to the full House.

In Arizona, the legislation “HB 2706” was advanced by the Republicans on the House Health and Human Services Committee in a party-line vote. It will now move to the full House.

They join a growing number of states that have proposed legislation as part of a national campaign by Alliance Defending Freedom.

Transgender athletes are ‘roadblock’ to girls, rep says

The Idaho bill would prevent an individual assigned male gender at birth, but who identifies as female, from playing on a sports team as a woman. The bill does not prevent transgender men from competing on men’s teams.

Ehardt introduced the bill into the committee with a story of her dream to play sports as a girl in the 1960s before Title IX was passed. She went on to play on scholarship at Idaho State University and coached a Division I women’s team for 15 years, per Boise State Public Radio.

She said transgender athletes are acting as a “roadblock” to girls and women who want to play sports with their peers.

“The bill will codify that girls’ and women’s opportunities cannot be taken by boys and men,” she said, via Boise State Public Radio.

It would apply to all sports teams sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities. The NCAA allows transgender women to compete on women’s teams after they’ve completed one year of testosterone suppression treatment. Though there’s no limit on the testosterone level.

Democrats, Republicans differ on legislation priority level

Rep. Steve Berch, a Boise Democrat, tried to block the bill, saying it’s “so far down the priority list that we have in this state facing education,” per Boise State Public Radio. Rep. Gary Marshall of Idaho Falls, a former athletic director and vice principal at the school Ehardt attended, countered that it is “of absolute significant importance that girls can grow up knowing that they can compete with other girls in sports.”

The legislators in Arizona argued similar stances on each side during two hour of testimony, per the Associated Press. Opponents argued that it would exclude transgender girls from participating in sport and learning life lessons such as teamwork. The Arizona legislation also allows for lawsuits from students who believe they’ve missed opportunities because a transgender person is on the team. The act states it may be cited as the “Save Women’s Sports Act.”

What is Alliance Defending Freedom doing?

Idaho and Arizona join Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Washington in introducing legislation aimed at preventing transgender women from participating in women’s sports, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU has been fighting the legislation.

This week, the families of three female high school runners in Connecticut filed a federal lawsuit to block transgender athletes from sports. The lawsuit comes after they filed a Title IX complaint last June along with the Alliance Defending Freedom. They allege the transgender athletes unfairly cost them qualifying spots in the state finals.

The ACLU said it will represent the transgender teen sprinters named in the case. The Alliance Defending Freedom has asked the court to keep the sprinters from competing while the lawsuit moves forward.

The state’s indoor track championships began Wednesday. The two girls filing the case and the two transgender athletes are all seniors.

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