BOISE — A local legislator plans to introduce a bill banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports.
Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, says she will introduce legislation that would prevent a transgender individual from competing in high school sports that do not match the sex they were born with.
“Boys and men will not be able to take the place of girls and women in sports because it’s not fair. 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 told EastIdahoNews.com.
Ehardt had planned on bringing similar legislation in the 2019 legislative session but says the bill was not ready then.
“I have been working on this for 18 months,” she said.
Ehardt says this bill is meant to protect women and girls. However, she said the language of the bill focuses on DNA and chromosomes, meaning that it does not single out transgender women. Transgender men would be prevented from competing in men’s sports as well, she said.
“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.
Ehardt said that her bill is not anti-LGBTQ and that she has worked with and trained many LGBTQ athletes.
“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,” Ehardt said.
Ehardt’s transgender sports bill is not the only controversial bill she plans to bring this legislative session. She also plans on putting forward her sex education bill that failed in the 2019 legislative session.
Last year, the Senate Education Committee killed the bill after the House passed it with a 56-to-14 vote. Ehardt said she is working on some tweaks that will help the legislation get through the Senate Education Committee this session.
The bill would require parents to opt their children into sex education classes as well as require educators to inform parents and guardians of any sexual content in their curriculum.
“We’ll be touching base with the Senate and a little more with Dean Mortimer. Hopefully, we’ll have what we need to get it through the Senate Education Committee,” Ehardt said.
Sen. Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, is the Senate Education Committee Chairman.
Ehardt said she is working with Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls, on bringing a bill to amend Idaho’s child marriage law.
Democrats brought a similar bill in 2019, but Ehardt said there were concerns about some of the language in the bill, which ultimately led to it being voted down.
“Unfortunately, the mantra that was being given … was that those of us, which was most of the Republicans in the House, that all we wanted to do was marry young girls off to old men all the time. That was absolutely infuriating because that was the farthest thing from the truth,” Ehardt said.
She said after the Democrats’ bill failed, she and other Republicans decided they could take on the issue and bring a new bill in 2020.
Ehardt said the issue of the child marriage law centers around parental rights.
“What Idaho is facing and actually the rest of the nations is who’s really in charge of their children. Is it the state or would it be the parents,” she said.
She said they are finishing up the studies they requested regarding child marriage issues and are working with other House Republicans to craft a bill that protects parent’s rights as well as children’s rights.