BOISE (LifeSiteNews) — The governor of Idaho recently signed a bill requiring students to use bathrooms and other facilities at school in accordance with biological sex.
SB 1100, “an act relating to protecting the privacy and safety of students in public schools,” was originally introduced on February 13 and signed into law by Republican Gov. Brad Little on March 24.
According to the bill, lawmakers found that “there are real and inherent differences between men and women” and that “every person has a natural right to privacy and safety in restrooms and changing facilities where such person might be in a partial or full state of undress in the presence of others.”
“Requiring students to share restrooms and changing facilities with members of the opposite biological sex generates potential embarrassment, shame, and psychological injury to students, as well as increasing the likelihood of sexual assault, molestation, rape, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.”
Lawmakers added that legislation to address this issue “is substantially related to the important governmental interest in protecting the privacy and safety of all students.”
“Every public school restroom or changing facility accessible by multiple persons at the same time must be designated for use by male persons only or female persons only and used only by members of that sex,” the law states. “The public school with authority over the building shall ensure that all restrooms and changing facilities provide its users with privacy from members of the opposite sex.”
The legislation also does not allow boys and girls to “share sleeping quarters, a restroom, or a changing facility” on overnight school trips unless they are siblings.
Exceptions to the policy include spaces designated for single or family use, maintenance employees, individuals providing medical assistance or accompanying another person in need of assistance, during emergencies, and “when necessary to prevent a serious threat to good order or student safety.”
While schools are enabled to grant “reasonable accommodation[s]” for students who request the use of facilities designated for the opposite sex, these students are not permitted to use these facilities “while persons of the opposite sex are present or could be present.”
Students may take legal action against the school if the institution “gave that person permission to use facilities of the opposite sex or the school failed to take reasonable steps to prohibit that person from using facilities of the opposite sex.”
Should a student “prevail in an action,” he or she “may recover from the defendant public school $5,000 for each instance that the student encountered a person of the opposite sex while accessing a public school restroom, changing facility or sleeping quarters designated for use by the aggrieved student’s sex.” Students are also eligible for monetary damages for psychological harm and legal fees.
The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2023.
Gov. Little, who has previously protected children by signing legislation such as the state’s six-week abortion ban, is not the only conservative governor to enact policies defending biological sex and student safety.
In 2021, Republican Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee enacted a law that requires students to use private spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms in according with sex to decrease the risk of sexual assault among students. Last week, Arkansas’s Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a bill barring members of public or charter schools from using facilities that do not align with their sex. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has also banned boys and girls from using facilities designated for the opposite sex.