Legislators in at least six states plan to introduce measures to protect high school girls’ sports. The bills would keep transgender-identified boys – who believe they are girls – from taking slots on girls’ sports teams.
Barbara Ehardt is a state representative in Idaho who has worked on a bill over the past year and plans to propose it this session. She wants “to make sure that girls and women have the same opportunities to compete, just as boys and men do.” She believes biological males have an “inherent advantage” in sports and says, “I just want us to keep the playing field fair.”
Tennessee Representative Bruce Griffey echoes that concern, saying, ““I don’t want girls to be at a disadvantage.” His bill requires participation in school-sanctioned sports to be “based on the student’s biological sex as indicated on certificate issued at time of birth” – or lose public funding.
Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia have “inclusive” policies which allow high school athletes to compete as the opposite sex – without hormones or surgery. That’s the case in states like Connecticut, where two boys who believe they are girls have won 15 girl’s state championship track titles in three seasons.
The Department of Education launched an inquiry into the Connecticut policy after the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a complaint on behalf of several high school girls. The complaint alleged illegal discrimination on the basis of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational programs.
California was one of the first states to allow boys who identify as female to compete on a girls’ team, after the legislature passed Assembly Bill 1266 in 2013. The law applied to kindergarten through 12th grade; it required that “a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”
That legislation also affected girls’ privacy and safety, as it opened school locker rooms, showers and restrooms to boys who identify as girls. In 2014, a high school boy played on the girls’ softball team at his high school in Los Angeles.
Nine states require surgeries to change the body to look like the opposite sex before a trans-identified individual may participate as the opposite sex. Or, these states require a revised birth certificate, where the original birth certificate is replaced with one of the opposite sex. Six states have no policy, and seventeen states have a mixture of policies, such as a waiting period after taking opposite-sex hormones or requiring a revised birth certificate. Some of these also make decisions on a case by case basis.
Idaho’s current transgender athlete policy says girls who think they are boys and are taking opposite sex hormones may participate only on a boys’ team. Boys who think they are girls must “complete one year of hormone treatment related to the gender transition before competing on a girls’ team.”
A year of opposite sex hormones doesn’t undo some of the natural advantages boys have in athletics after going through puberty. Adolescent boys and men generally have greater lung capacity and heart size; larger, heavier bones and muscles; and different hip and leg structures.
Ehardt is well aware of those male-female differences, having coached both women’s and boys’ basketball. She attended Idaho State University on a basketball scholarship, was a Division I women’s basketball coach, and runs a traveling basketball program for high school boys.
In an interview with the Idaho Statesman, she said: “Coming up in the ‘80s, I absolutely reaped the rewards of Title IX.” As a coach and a legislator, she wants to make sure that those rewards aren’t taken away by boys who compete as girls.
Each Family Policy Council promotes state and local legislation that supports religious freedom, life, free speech, parental rights and God’s design for marriage and sexuality.