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House committee passes trans bathroom ban for schools

Idaho Capitol exterior
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio

A bill banning transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity in public schools is another step closer to becoming law.

That policy would also apply to locker rooms, shower facilities and other changing facilities. Instead, schools would have to provide a “reasonable accommodation” upon written request.

Blaine Conzatti, president of the Idaho Family Policy Center, brought the bill.

“We want schools focused on teaching students, not fighting culture war battles,” Conzatti said.

Nearly all who testified supported the bill. Parents or grandparents with children attending public schools said they fear their kids will be attacked or sexually assaulted by transgender people.

The ACLU of Idaho was the only group to oppose the measure. It argued it unconstitutionally discriminated against trans people.

Some, like Rep. Steve Berch (D-Boise), said the only thing giving them pause is a piece of the bill that allows students to sue a school if it didn’t take reasonable steps to enforce the legislation.

“What I am extremely concerned about – this trend of legislation by intimidation and threat of legal action and financial penalty,” Berch said.

Judges could award $5,000 for each violation.

Rep. Dale Hawkins (R-Fernwood) said it should go even further.

“If we make rules where we’re out to protect children, I’m not even sure $5,000 is enough,” Hawkins said.

The proposal has already passed the Senate, and on Tuesday, it comfortably cleared a House committee.

It only needs approval from the full House and the governor’s signature to become law.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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