“We are seeking immediate relief to stop this law from banishing transgender students across Idaho from using the same facilities as their peers once they return to school and turning them into outsiders in their own communities.”
Lambda Legal, Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, and Alturas Law Group, PLLC, last night filed a federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Superintendent of Education Debbie Critchfield and other Idaho school officials on behalf of a rising seventh-grade transgender student and an LGBTQ high school student organization challenging Idaho’s new school facilities law that singles out transgender students for discriminatory treatment. Plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, seeking immediate relief to stop the law from being enforced as the academic school year approaches.
“Idaho has launched another cruel and unconstitutional attack on a vulnerable population – transgender youth,” said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Peter Renn. “This is not the first such attack on transgender youth, and sadly it will likely not be the last. It is reprehensible that anti-transgender state legislators nationwide keep singling out transgender youth for harmful, discriminatory treatment, even though court after court has repeatedly quashed this type of discrimination wherever it has popped up. We are seeking immediate relief to stop this law from banishing transgender students across Idaho from using the same facilities as their peers once they return to school and turning them into outsiders in their own communities.”
Idaho’s discriminatory facilities law, Senate Bill 1100, which was signed by Idaho Gov. Brad Little on March 22, 2023, was drafted by the ultra-conservative Idaho Family Policy Center. As of July 1, 2023, the law imposes a sweeping statewide mandate, governing all public and charter schools K-12, that schools must exclude transgender students from multi-user restrooms and other school facilities matching their gender identity, based on a legislative definition of “sex” as limited to chromosomes and reproductive anatomy. For many years, numerous schools across Idaho have adopted inclusive policies and practices (including those based on a model school board policy issued in 2016), which have allowed transgender students to use school facilities matching their gender identity.
To magnify the chilling effect of the law, it allows any student to recover a minimum of $5,000 for each instance where they encounter a transgender person using a facility barred by the law—thereby placing a “bounty” on the heads of transgender students and encouraging peers to search them out.
“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 Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), a student organization at Boise High School that works to support LGBTQ students. “It would be humiliating, distracting, and exhausting to try to make it through the school day without having proper access to bathrooms.”
“There is no evidence that inclusive policies allowing transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender have caused any problems. In fact, for years Idaho schools have implemented inclusive policies without harming anyone and only helping to make transgender youth feel safer and more welcome at school,” Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kell Olson added. “It is time for politicians to stop using young people who are transgender as a wedge issue for political gain.”
The lawsuit, Roe v. Critchfield, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho on behalf of one student, a rising seventh grader, and SAGA. The complaint charges that S.B. 1100 violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, by discriminating on the basis of sex and transgender status, and by outing students as transgender.
To Know Your Rights about Bathrooms and Locker Rooms: http://www.lambdalegal.org/know-your-rights/youth/bathrooms-and-locker-rooms
The attorneys working on the case include: Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Peter Renn, Staff Attorney Kell Olson, Senior Counsel Tara Borelli, and Renberg Fellow Christina Paek; co-counsel at Munger Tolles & Olson LLP; and co-counsel at Alturas Law Group, PLLC.