House passes school bathroom bill
by Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports
The House passed a bill that would require schools to provide separate bathrooms, locker rooms and sleeping quarters for students based on their sex assigned at birth. The legislation now heads to Gov. Brad Little.
Senate Bill 1100 allows the schools to provide alternate accommodations for students who are unwilling or unable to use assigned facilities. The bill also includes exemptions for natural disasters, temporary restrooms, unisex bathrooms, and those who enter the restroom to provide medical assistance or janitorial services.
The bill also includes a civil action clause, which allows students to file lawsuits against the school if they encounter someone of the opposite sex in a bathroom or locker room. The clause allows lawsuits within four years of the encounter, with the school paying $5,000 for each encounter, plus damages for any psychological, emotional, or physical harm suffered.
Unlike last week’s lengthy Senate debate, the House passed the bill with no discussion. The bill passed 59-10, with Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise, joining Republicans in supporting the bill. Berch had previously said in committee he would support the bill on the floor if his school board did.
“I was fine with everything in the bill except the penalty clause,” Berch told Idaho Reports on the House floor after the vote.
He said the school officials he spoke with were also concerned about the lawsuit mechanism but are looking for guidance on the bathrooms issue.
“Taken as a whole, they would support it,” Berch said — or are fine with it, at least. “The rest of the bill had enough benefit.”
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.