© 2024 Boise State Public Radio
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Idaho legislature passes pair of anti-transgender rights bills

The Idaho State Flag hanging inside the Statehouse Rotunda.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio

State senators passed a pair of bills Tuesday night, one of which defines male and female as the only two genders legally recognized in Idaho.

The other protects state workers who choose not to use someone’s preferred pronouns.

The first bill will explicitly define every human as either male or female – no exceptions. That includes intersex people, who are born with ambiguous genitalia or those of both sexes.

Idaho currently faces multiple suits against recent laws passed by the legislature relating to transgender rights, some of which it lost and has since appealed.

Sen. Mary Shea (D-Pocatello), who is substituting for Senate Assistant Minority Leader James Ruchti, said current U.S. Supreme Court precedent bans discrimination based on a person’s gender identity.

“It may seem harmless to you,” said Shea of the legislation. “It’s going to be cannon fodder for the litigation that’s already filed against Idaho.”

Those lawsuits include a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and barring athletes from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

A federal court struck down a law in 2020 that tried banning transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates as unconstitutional.

The second bill protects public employees, like teachers, from retaliation if they choose not to use a person’s preferred pronouns.

Sen. Chris Trakel (R-Caldwell) said the government can’t force him to compromise his religious beliefs or compel his speech.

“Genesis said that God created man and woman in his image,” said Trakel. “To force me to go against that belief is discrimination against me.”

Both proposals already passed the House.

Gov. Brad Little can sign the bill, let it go into law without his signature or veto the legislation.

Copyright 2024 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

You make stories like this possible.

The biggest portion of Boise State Public Radio's funding comes from readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

Your donation today helps make our local reporting free for our entire community.