OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 4:08 PM – Tuesday, March 28, 2023
A bill that forbids transgender children in the state of Idaho from using public restrooms that do not correspond to their gender assigned at birth was signed this week by Republican Governor Brad Little.
According to Senate Bill 1100, which goes into effect on July 1st, public schools must offer separate restrooms, showers, dressing spaces, locker rooms, and overnight lodging for Idaho students.
However, single-occupancy restrooms are not subject to the regulations.
Additionally, the bill mandates that reasonable modifications be made for students who are opposed to utilizing multi-occupancy toilets or changing areas for whatever reason.
“Requiring students to share restrooms and changing facilities with members of the opposite biological sex generates potential embarrassment, shame, and psychological injury to students,” the bill asserts.
According to the statute, students will be able to sue their schools if individuals of the opposite sex are permitted to use facilities that were designated for only one sex, or if they failed to “take reasonable steps” to stop the individual from utilizing those amenities.
In addition to receiving monetary damages from schools for psychological, emotional, or physical harm, students who are victorious in their private lawsuits will receive $5,000 from the public school system for each occasion they saw “a person of the opposite sex” in those gendered facilities or sleeping quarters.
For years, trans activists have been fighting against legislation regarding bathroom laws, decrying them as unnecessary and destructive assaults on the humanity of transgender students.
On Saturday, Senator Rick Just (D-Idaho) told the press that one of the main reasons he didn’t vote for the bill was because it would empower anyone to bring private lawsuits against school districts.
“I don’t believe it’s helpful to encourage citizens to seek damages whenever they feel aggrieved in the slightest way,” Just said.
One of the bill’s authors, Republican State Representative Ted Hill (R-Idaho), claimed that the measure would ultimately “bring peace” between the schools, school boards, and guardians by allowing them to primarily concentrate on the education of the pupils.
“The most important part of this legislation was to recognize the rights of everyone… 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,” Hill maintained.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which is the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization in the U.S., heavily criticized Governor Little after the bill was passed and declared that “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…These bills will not accomplish anything other than to further alienate and stigmatize those already on the margins of life in this state,” said Cathryn Oakley, the HRC’s state legislative director and senior counsel.
According to the HRC, there have been more “bathroom bills” filed around the U.S. so far in 2023 than in any other year.
The governors of Arkansas and Iowa signed laws comparable to that of Idaho this past week as well.
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-Ark.), signed a bill on Tuesday that forbids transgender persons from using restrooms that do not correspond to the sex given on their birth certificates.
Governor Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa) also signed legislation that forbids transgender students from using restrooms in schools that do not match the sex that was assigned to them at birth.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 2% of high school pupils in the country identify as transgender. Transgender people make up a very small percentage of children in the United States.
The kind of legislation that Republicans are promoting, according to some medical professionals, is said to likely further marginalize transgender children, a minority that already faces increased rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
According to the National Library of Medicine, their data indicated that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have already attempted suicide.
In 2016, North Carolina passed a law requiring people at government-run facilities to use bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their assigned gender at birth, if the rooms in question were multiple-occupancy.
The political discussion surrounding which bathrooms transgender people were allowed to use erupted into chaos and caused division. The policy was later revoked after receiving harsh criticism from some businesses and advocates.
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