Transgender bathroom bill passes committee, heads to House

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 4:32 AM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Legislation that would prohibit transgender youth from using the bathroom of the sex they identify with is one step closer to becoming law in Idaho.

SB1100 passed the House Education Committee Wednesday morning with a “Do Pass” recommendation, and many of the people who testified before the committee showed support for the legislation.

Rep. Ted Hill and Idaho Family Policy Center president Blaine Conzatti told the committee the legislation has the support of local superintendents and school boards. Hill said school officials are asking lawmakers for guidance on the issue. On one end schools want to ensure youth have privacy and feel safe when they are in a multi-occupancy facility for their biological sex, but at the same time schools don’t want to put themselves at risk of violating the rights of transgender youth.

The legislation requires public schools to maintain separate bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, dressing areas, and overnight accommodations for biological boys and biological girls.

However, the bill does have a provision in it for transgender youth by outlining schools need to provide reasonable accommodations for any student who is unwilling or unable to use a multi-occupancy facility designated for his or her sex. A request for a reasonable accommodation would have to be in writing, and reasonable accommodation would not include access to a restroom, changing facility, or sleeping quarter that is designated for use by members of the opposite sex, while persons of the opposite sex are present or could be present.

Amy Dundon, of the ACLU of Idaho said she and her supporters feel the legislation is unneeded, because there are no documented instances of transgender youth in Idaho harming other students when they enter a facility for the sex they identify with.

However, those who testified in support of the bill said the legislation is needed to protect students from bad actors who are not transgender.

“I think you are all familiar with Loudoun County’s issues and what happened there. The perpetrator wore a skirt, went in, and raped a young lady,” said Cynthia Tria, who spoke in support of the bill.

One piece of the legislation that lawmakers in committee had a difference of opinion on was the civil penalty attached to the bill. Under the legislation, any student has up to four years to bring forth a lawsuit against an institution that did not take steps to prevent someone from entering a multi-occupancy facility that is opposite of his or her biological sex. Any student who prevails in a lawsuit can receive up to $5,000 for each instance that the student encountered a person of the opposite sex in a multi-occupancy facility.

“I am extremely concerned about this trend of legislation by intimidation. threat of legal action and financial penalty,” Rep. Steve Berch said.

However, Rep. Dale Hawkins countered by saying, “I don’t think this is an issue. I think if we make rules where we are out to protect children, I’m not even sure if $5,000 is enough.”

Additionally, the student may also recover monetary damages for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered.

The bill has exemptions for when the other biological sex needs to enter a restroom or changing room to provide medical assistance, to clean the facility, or in cases of ongoing safety emergency or natural disaster.

The legislation passed the Senate earlier this month, 28 to 7, with all the Democrats voting against it.