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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Washington AG, others support blocking Idaho bathroom law


OLYMPIA — Washington and a group of other states have filed a court brief supporting a group of students aiming to block an Idaho law that bars transgender students from using school bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and New York Attorney General Letitia James are leading a coalition of attorneys general from other states and Washington, D.C., arguing Idaho’s law violates federal civil rights laws.

In July, a seventh grade trans girl and the Boise High School Sexuality and Gender Alliance challenged Senate Bill 1100 in federal court in Idaho. They argue the law is unconstitutional and violates the equal protection clause, Title IX and their right to privacy.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed Senate Bill 1100 into law in March, with an effective date of July 1. A temporary restraining order in the students’ lawsuit had put the law on pause in August, but in mid-October a judge lifted the order and declined to stop the law from going into effect while the lawsuit was ongoing. The students appealed that decision, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has stopped Senate Bill 1100 from going into effect until the students’ appeal is heard.

In court documents, the state of Idaho has said Senate Bill 1100 was enacted to “uniformly protect the safety and privacy of all children in its public schools.” The bill allows students to sue schools for $5,000 or more per instance of encountering a transgender student in a facility that is prohibited by the law.

The law also requires schools to provide a “reasonable accommodation” for any student who is not willing or able to use a multioccupancy restroom or changing area in a public school building, or multioccupancy sleeping area while at an activity sponsored by a public school, according to court documents.

Ferguson said in a statement that letting students use bathrooms and changing rooms that line up with their gender identity “helps them feel accepted and does not pose a threat to anyone.”

Under Washington law, school districts are required to allow trans students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity and must provide all students with an alternative restroom to use if they want more privacy, regardless of whether they are trans or not.

“In Washington, where the rights of transgender students are protected, public schools report no instances of transgender students harassing others in bathrooms or locker rooms,” Ferguson said. “In contrast, the evidence is overwhelming that prohibiting students from using facilities that correspond to their gender identity causes them very real, physical, emotional and mental harm.”

The coalition led by Ferguson and James also includes California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C.