Opponents file lawsuit over new transgender bathroom law

Opponents filed a lawsuit Thursday, targeting against a new state law requiring students to use a bathroom or locker room consistent with their birth gender.

Filed on behalf of a seventh-grader, in concert with Boise High School’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance student organization, the lawsuit targets state superintendent Debbie Critchfield, State Board of Education members, the Boise School Board and Boise School District superintendent Coby Dennis.

“Idaho has launched another cruel and unconstitutional attack on a vulnerable population — transgender youth,” Peter Renn, senior counsel for law firm Lambda Legal, in a news release Friday morning. “This is not the first such attack on transgender youth, and sadly, it will likely not be the last.”

The lawsuit was filed Thursday night in Idaho’s federal district court. The complaint charges that the new law violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Title IX standards by “discriminating on the basis of sex and transgender status, and by outing students as transgender.”

The law, Senate Bill 1100, passed during the 2023 legislative session. Signed by Gov. Brad Little on March 22, the bill went into effect on July 1.

SB 1100 requires students to use the bathroom or locker room aligned with the gender they were assigned at birth, rather than their gender identity. Students can receive accommodations from the school for alternative facilities.

According to the lawsuit, some Idaho schools have had bathroom policies in place for years that allow transgender youth to use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity. The plaintiffs say the new law will force districts to reverse course and rescind student rights.

“There is no reason to keep me and my transgender classmates from continuing to use the same school restrooms as our peers, which school policy has allowed us to do for years,” said Atlas Jones, president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance at Boise High School. “It would be humiliating, distracting, and exhausting to try to make it through the school day without having proper access to bathrooms.”

The complaint describes SB 1100 as a “solution in search of a problem.”

“SB 1100 imposes a blanket statewide ban that schools must follow, strips transgender students of equal access to communal facilities, and subjects (transgender students) to profound harm in the name of protecting non-transgender students from privacy and safety harms that do not exist,” the complaint reads.

The suit also takes issue with SB 1100’s private action clause, which allows individuals to seek financial damages from a district that fails to enforce the law.

This clause, coupled with substantial statutory damages, “encourages peers of transgender students to search them out,” the complaint reads. “And it sends a message to Idaho youth that merely sharing the same communal space as a transgender student inherently harms other students.”

Sadie Dittenber

Sadie Dittenber

Reporter Sadie Dittenber focuses on K-12 policy and politics. She is a College of Idaho graduate, born and raised in the Treasure Valley. You can follow Sadie on Twitter @sadiedittenber and send her news tips at [email protected].

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