State Watch

Idaho governor signs transgender bathroom bill

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, this week signed legislation barring transgender students from using school facilities consistent with their gender identity, making the state the third this year — and this week — to enact such a law.

Little quietly signed Idaho’s Senate Bill 1100 Thursday without comment. The measure, first introduced in mid-February, sailed through the state’s GOP-controlled legislature, passing each chamber with an overwhelming majority.

The new law, effective July 1, prevents transgender public school students from using multiperson restrooms or locker rooms that match their gender identity. The law’s restrictions do not extend to single-occupancy facilities.

It also prohibits them from sleeping in the same room as their peers or sharing a bathroom or changing area during overnight field trips authorized by the school.

Students who are either “unwilling or unable” to use a school’s multiperson facilities that align with their sex assigned at birth may submit a written request for reasonable accommodation, according to the law, although such accommodations will “not include access to a restroom, changing facility, or sleeping quarter” consistent with their gender identity.

Republican Govs. Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas and Kim Reynolds of Iowa this week signed similar restrictions into law. At least three other states — Alabama, Oklahoma and Tennessee — have enacted so-called bathroom bills since 2021.

Under the new Idaho law, cisgender students who encounter transgender students using school facilities that are inconsistent with their sex assigned at birth will have a private cause of action to sue the school within four years.

“Any student who prevails in an action brought under this chapter may recover from the defendant public school five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each instance that the student encountered a person of the opposite sex while accessing a public school restroom, changing facility, or sleeping quarters designated for use by aggrieved student’s sex,” the law states.

Cisgender students may also recover additional monetary damages from the school related to “psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered,” as well as attorney’s fees.

Little on Thursday also gave final approval to another bill that critics say will force public schools to out LGBTQ students to their parents, even if doing so would put students in danger.

“LGBTQ+ people in Idaho deserve the opportunity to live their lives with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, the bills that Gov. Little is signing into law will make life harder on LGBTQ+ folks across the state,” Cathryn Oakley, the state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said Thursday 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,” she said.

Tags brad little Idaho LGBTQ rights Transgender rights

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