BOISE, Idaho — A bill that would prohibit students from using bathrooms that don't match their biological sex passed out of the House Education Committee on Wednesday morning, which opponents argue could effectively bar transgender students from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
SB 1100 would require public K-12 schools to keep separate locker rooms, restrooms and dressing areas for biological boys and girls. The bill carries a civil course of action -- a student could sue the school for $5,000 if they find the school allowed a person of the opposite biological sex into that certain bathroom. It passed on party lines. The Idaho Senate previously passed the bill 28-7, but it was referred back to committee when it was taken up in the House.
The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Ted Hill, R-Eagle, said the legislation protects "young girls rights to be safe and secure" when they go to school.
The bill would also require schools to provide a reasonable accommodation for students who is unwilling or unable to use the restroom or changing facility.
"Our schools need some guidance in this," Rep. Jack Nelsen, R-Jerome, said in committee.
As it stands now, Idaho law allows schools to decide how they handle students using the bathrooms of their identity. The bill, however, says requiring students to use interchangeable restrooms "increases the likelihood of sexual assault."
Holli Woodings, Boise City Council President -- who was substituting in committee -- said to her knowledge, no cases of a transgender person assaulting someone in a bathroom has ever happened.
Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, said in the Senate debate last week that if she saw someone entering a bathroom and was unclear of their biological sex, there isn’t a way to verify.
Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise, asked to take out the civil clause of the bill. Representatives in favor argued that the bill needs some "teeth" to be enforced. Berch's motion failed.
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