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Anti-Trans restroom bill passes in Idaho: Six more anti-LGBTQ bills in the works

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Photo by Kyle Green / AP
Photo by Kyle Green / AP

In our last issue, we reported on Washington's House Bill 1469, which, if passed, would protect those who provide, are seeking, or have received reproductive or gender-affirming care from the reach of laws of other states.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned, many states had trigger laws set to go into effect to ban abortion. There's also been a rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation put forward under the guise of "protecting children." Washington's neighbor, Idaho, has seven such bills, and one has already passed.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little — Photo by Kevin Lamarque / Reuters  

Senate Bill 1100
Senate Bill 1100 was signed into law by Idaho's governor, Brad Little, on March 23. The bill amended the Idaho code regarding school restrooms, changing rooms, and overnight lodging. It states, "There are real and inherent physical differences between men and women" and that "every person has a natural right to privacy and safety in restrooms and changing facilities."

This law prevent not only Trans students from using restrooms aligned with their gender identity but also create the narrative that Trans people's presence in these spaces as dangerous.

The legislation goes so far as to say, "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..."

The supporters of this bill do not care about the potential shame generated by forcing Trans youths to use restrooms that don't align with their gender identity. Also, a 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics study found that Trans youth whose bathroom and locker room use was restricted were more likely to experience sexual assault.

The bill also allows for a cause of action against the school. If a student encounters a person of the opposite sex in a school restroom, changing room, or sleeping quarters, they can take legal action. If the school was found to have permitted the person to be there, or they were found to have not taken steps to prevent that person from using a "facility of the opposite sex," then the plaintiff student will prevail. The public school will then be forced to pay the student $5,000 for each instance the student encounters a member of the opposite sex. The student could also recover monetary damages for all "psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered."

Senate Bills 1016 and 1003
Gov. Little will likely also be signing Senate Bill 1016, thus amending Idaho's code regarding discrimination in contracting. In 2014, President Obama amended an executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracts' nondiscrimination clauses. SB 1016 would exempt state public works contractors from the requirement to provide nongendered, multiuse restrooms and locker rooms on job sites.

Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, said, "Most facilities on construction sites are [porta-potties], single-use, and they don't really need this. I think that this is a bill that is, again, just growing hostility against a group of people who just want to live their lives and go to the bathroom when they need to."

Senate Bill 1003 expands the exemptions to public works offerors, bidders, and subcontractors.

Senate Bill 1071
This is an amendment to the Idaho code regarding education. If passed, it will prohibit instruction on human sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity before fifth grade. Idaho does not have a comprehensive sex education curriculum for schools, and what does get taught must encourage abstinence and the importance of family. Idaho's education codes say that the responsibility of providing sex education "rests upon the home and the church."

Sen. Janie Ward Engelking, D-Boise, opposed the bill because she thought it was unnecessary.

House Bill 63
This is an amendment regarding counselors and therapists and their ability to refuse service to clients with goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with their "sincerely held principles." Proponents of this bill state that this will provide a "safety net" to counselors and therapists.

Those in opposition, like social worker Zach Ivey, have stated that it encourages some to let their biases stop them from doing what's best for the client.

The bill will require the counselor or therapist to coordinate a referral of the client, but this does not nullify the impact this rejection could have on their mental health.

House Bill 71
Idaho lawmakers are attempting to criminalize gender-affirming care for children. The bill states, "Any medical practitioner that knowingly engages in any of the following practices upon a child for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of or affirm the child's perception of the child's sex if that perception is inconsistent with the child's biological sex shall be guilty of a felony." The practices included are bottom surgery, top surgery, puberty blockers, and hormone treatment.

A previous bill version stated that anyone found guilty "shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term of not more than life." It has been updated to ten years instead.

This law would criminalize doctors for doing their jobs and block Trans youths in Idaho from potentially lifesaving care.

House Bill 265
In addition to laws regarding restrooms, education, mental health care, and gender-affirming care, Idaho legislators are, unsurprisingly, also targeting drag shows. HB 265 is about "protecting" minors from "sexual exhibitions." It states that any person or institution that knowingly takes part in a show that exposes a minor to "live persons engaged in sexual conduct" or a performance that is "patently offensive to an average person" can be pursued in a civil action by the parent or minor. If a parent or minor prevails in their action, they can recover $10,000, and monetary damages for harm suffered.

How does this bill target drag shows precisely? One of the ways HB 265 defines sexual conduct is "sexually provocative dances or gestures performed with accessories that exaggerate male or female primary or secondary sexual characteristics."

Idaho is currently ramping up its anti-LGBT legislation, with one bill passed and six more in the works. In light of this, Washington's House Bill 1469 is more important than ever, as LGBTQ Idahoans confront these harmful pieces of legislation.