Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a bill this week banning transgender students in the state from using public school bathrooms that do not align with their biological sex, becoming the latest Republican state to take action against one of America’s most contentious culture war issues.
Under Senate Bill 1100, from July 1st, public schools in the state will be required to provide separate facilities for male and female students, including bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, dressing areas, and overnight accommodations.
“There are real and inherent physical differences between men and women,” the bill states.
Every person has a natural right to privacy and safety in restrooms and changing facilities where such person might be in a partial or full state of undress in the presence of others. This natural right especially applies to students using public school restrooms and changing facilities where student privacy and safety is essential to providing a safe learning environment for all students.
Requiring students to share restrooms and changing facilities with members of the opposite biological sex generates potential embarrassment, shame, and psychological injury to students, as well as increasing the likelihood of sexual assault, molestation, rape, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.
Providing separate public school restrooms and changing facilities for the different biological sexes is a long-standing and widespread practice protected by federal law, state law, and case law.
Federal legislative action, federal executive action, and federal court judgments that prevent public schools from maintaining separate restrooms and changing facilities for different biological sexes are in consistent with the United States constitution and violate the privacy and safety rights of students
A statewide policy ensuring separate school restrooms and changing facilities on the basis of biological sex is substantially related to the important governmental interest in protecting the privacy and safety of all students.
Under the legislation, students will have the right to seek financial compensation if schools in Idaho allow individuals of the opposite gender to use sex-specific facilities or do not take appropriate measures to prevent such use. If successful in their lawsuit, students can receive $5,000 for each instance in which they witnessed an individual of the opposite sex in these facilities or sleeping quarters.
Republican state Rep. Ted Hill, who sponsored the bill, told CNN the legislation would “bring peace” within the school system and allow students to focus on their education instead.
“The most important part of this legislation was to recognize the rights of everyone,” Hill wrote. “Recognized the rights for young girls to be safe and secure in a place where they are most vulnerable, same for the boys to be safe and secure where they are most vulnerable, and the rights for everyone else to be safe, secure and comfortable in a place where they are most vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign, the most prominent LGBT campaign group in the U.S., said the bill would deprive LGBT people of “dignity and respect.”
“Unfortunately, the bills that Gov. Little is signing into law will make life harder on LGBTQ+ folks across the state,” the group’s state legislative director and senior counsel, Cathryn Oakley, said in a statement. “These bills will not accomplish anything other than to further alienate and stigmatize those already on the margins of life in this state.”
Similar bills were passed in Iowa and Arkansas last week, as Republican-controlled states seek to crack down on the explosion in transgender identification and activism over the past decade. In an analysis released late last year, Reuters found that in 2021, around 42,000 minors across the U.S. received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, nearly triple the number in 2017.
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