Connecticut high school track stars Selina, Alanna, and Chelsea never imagined how quickly things would change in their sport when two biological males who identified as female began competing against them. The two males quickly captured 15 women’s state champion titles, took away more than 85 opportunities from female track athletes to advance to higher levels, and shattered 17 state track records.
Those opportunities for female athletes in Connecticut are gone forever. The years that these brave girls spent honing their skills feel wasted as they face the realization that advancing to the state championship, earning a place at the top of the podium, or catching the attention of a college recruiter is far less likely as long as males are allowed to compete in female sports.
I introduced House Bill 500, Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, because I don’t want any female athlete in Idaho to experience what these three girls and others like them have experienced.
There is no denying that there are physical differences between males and females. For example, U.S. Olympic athlete Allyson Felix holds the women’s world record in the 400-meter distance with a blazingly fast time of 49.26 seconds. Yet in 2018 alone, at least 275 high school boys beat Allyson’s time.
The differences in athletic performance between males and females holds true across almost all sports. As tennis legend Martina Navratilova noted, “There will always be significant numbers of boys and men who would beat the best girls and women in head-to-head competition. Claims to the contrary are simply a denial of science.”
Just as we separate teams based on age to ensure competitive fairness, so too must we preserve women’s sports for females so that our daughters and granddaughters are guaranteed a level playing field.
Under my bill, every student has the opportunity to compete in sports, regardless of how they identify. They will have the right to compete with other members of their biological sex or on co-ed teams. Athletic directors are equipped to address questions of eligibility through current protocols. And, the Idaho High School Activities Association’s medical form alone answers 99.99% of all eligibility questions. The bill also compassionately helps students born with an intersex condition by providing other means to verify eligibility when needed.
I reached out to individuals and organizations with expertise on this issue, including the non-profit law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the three Connecticut female athletes in their lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for adopting a policy that allows males to compete on female teams.
The Connecticut story demonstrates why we can no longer rely on unaccountable, politically-motivated organizations, including the NCAA or state athletic associations, to maintain policies that are fair to our female athletes. Those organizations ignore studies like the recent one from Sweden which showed that simply requiring a male athlete to be on testosterone blockers for a year did not take away his physiological advantages over female competitors.
Contrary to the assertions of some former Idaho attorneys general, my bill is fully consistent with both the Constitution and federal law. In fact, this law will ensure that Idaho complies with the requirements of Title IX, a federal law specifically designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics.
When harmful policies deprive our daughters and granddaughters of the chance to compete and win in sports, then our legislature has a duty to act. The Fairness in Women’s Sports bill ensures that our female athletes always step out onto a level playing field when they compete. It’s good science. It’s good law. And it’s best for our girls. That is exactly why Governor Little should sign it.