Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington and New York Attorney General Letitia James are spearheading a coalition consisting of 21 attorneys general in a concerted effort to file a brief aimed at blocking an Idaho law that prohibits transgender students from accessing school facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, according to their gender identity.
The law in question, Idaho Senate Bill 1100, sparked legal action after a seventh-grade transgender girl and the Boise High School Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), led by a transgender high school senior as its president, contested its discriminatory nature in federal court in Idaho back in July.
Ferguson highlighted the importance of enabling students to utilize facilities aligning with their gender identity, emphasizing its contribution to their sense of acceptance without posing any threat. He underscored that in Washington, where such rights are protected, there have been no reports of transgender students harassing others in such facilities. Conversely, evidence suggests that prohibiting access causes genuine physical, emotional, and mental distress to affected students.
Despite the federal district court's denial of the student, Rebecca Roe, and SAGA’s plea to halt the law's implementation pending the lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit temporarily blocked the law until the appeal is heard. The ultimate decision rests with the Ninth Circuit on whether to overturn the lower court’s ruling, thereby halting the law's enforcement for the case's entire duration. Ferguson's brief supports the plea to prevent the law from taking effect until a comprehensive decision is reached.
The coalition's brief argues that denying transgender students access to common restrooms, which align with their gender identity, constitutes a violation of federal civil rights laws. Additionally, it contends that enabling such access benefits everyone without compromising safety, privacy, or incurring significant costs.
Citing statistics that over 1.6 million individuals in the U.S. identify as transgender, including approximately 300,000 youth aged between 13 and 17, the brief underlines the prevalence of transgender individuals and the necessity for protections against gender identity discrimination. It also points out that more than 22 states, Washington, D.C., and over 370 municipalities nationwide provide explicit protections against gender-identity discrimination across various domains like education, housing, and employment.