Idaho’s Republican governor has signed a bill into law that restricts transgender students from using the correct bathroom.
Governor Brad Little signed Senate Bill 1100 into law on Thursday (23 March), effectively barring trans youth in the state from using bathrooms that align with their gender.
The bill requires public schools to provide male and female bathrooms and changing facilities, although exemptions apply for single-occupancy restrooms and facilities designated for family use.
Using an antiquated definition of “biological” sex as its justification, the bill allows students to take legal action against public schools that allow trans students to use facilities aligned with their gender.
The new law, which comes into effect on 1 July, also prohibits multi-gender sleeping facilities or changing rooms.
Schools found in breach of the law could be forced to pay up to $5,000 in damages to plaintiffs for each person “of the opposite sex” found in the facility.
Sponsors of the bill baselessly claimed it would “bring peace” to Idaho schools and school boards, claiming that allowing trans people to go to the bathroom was somehow harming student education.
“The most important part of this legislation was to recognise the rights of everyone,” Republican sponsor Ted Hill told CNN.
“[The bill] recognised 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.”
There is no evidence to suggest that trans people using the bathroom assigned to their gender identity threatens the safety of students.
The bill will ‘further alienate and stigmatise’ LGBTQ+ students
Democratic Idaho senator Rick Just said he believed the bill could be used to harm the financial well-being of public schools.
“I don’t believe it’s helpful to encourage citizens to seek damages whenever they feel aggrieved in the slightest way,” he said.
Additionally, the Human Rights Campaign said that Governor Little had ultimately made life harder for LGBTQ+ students by signing the bill.
A spokesperson said the bill “will not accomplish anything other than to further alienate and stigmatise those already on the margins”.
It is just one of the many anti-trans bathroom bills proposed across state governments.
Recent data suggests that over 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed by state lawmakers – the majority of which are Republicans – attempting to impede LGBTQ+ rights.
Many of these bills were filed in 2023 and focus on things like anti-drag bans, trans bathroom and pronoun bills, and restricting access to gender-affirming care.
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