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Idaho's AG calls Caldwell School District's LGBTQ+ policy 'dangerous,' asks for details on where it's from

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Zelda Gardner
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UPDATE: On Monday, the Idaho School Board Association answered the Attorney General's inquiry in a letter shared with Boise State Public Radio.

“The policy you inquired about was initially released in July 2015 based on Dear Colleague guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights," Swanson wrote.

“We have not, and do not, indicate to our members this policy is required by law. Rather, the policy serves as framework for each local board to determine  -alongside their community- what is best for their students and helps them understand the various legal complexities and rights guaranteed to students under the United States Constitution.” 

Read the full text below.

ORIGINAL STORY: The State Attorney General’s office is scrutinizing a policy proposal drafted by the Caldwell School Board which outlines best practices for LGBTQ+ students. This comes a few weeks after a board meeting discussing the policy ended in chaos.

In a tweet posted on Monday, Attorney General Raúl Labrador said the proposed policy appeared to violate Idaho law. In a follow-up letter to the Idaho School Board Association, Labrador called the policy “dangerous” and “reckless,” and asked detailed questions about the ISBA’s involvement in drafting the proposal.

If adopted, it would allow students to use the bathrooms that align with their gender, protect students’ privacy and ensure they can participate in overnight trips.

Labrador wrote he is concerned the proposal doesn’t allow parents to direct their children’s education, and said educators’ first amendment rights could be violated. The policy requires staff to use students’ preferred pronouns.

Under Federal Civil Rights law Title IX, students are protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Research from Harvard’s School of Public Health shows trans and nonbinary students were the victims of sexual assault at much higher rates than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. Queer students are also more likely to be assaulted or harassed at schools that do not have inclusive bathroom and locker room policies.

A 2021 national survey of more than 22,000 students aged 13 to 17 found that LGBTQ+ students are bullied at higher rates than their cisgender peers and a large majority report feeling unsafe at school.

In an email, Idaho School Board Association director Misty Swanson said “We stand by our mission to advocate for Idaho students and public education and will continue to support and empower local school boards for student success.”

The Attorney General’s office emailed to say it had no further comment.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.