By Brendan Pierson
(Reuters) – The family of a transgender middle school student has sued to prevent Idaho from requiring public school students to use the restroom corresponding to their assigned sex at birth, in the latest fight over a U.S. state law targeting transgender youth.
The family and a student association say the law, signed by Republican Governor Brad Little in March, illegally discriminates on the basis of gender identity and violates students’ right to privacy.
The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in federal court in the state capital Boise, was accompanied by a motion seeking to suspend enforcement while the court considers the challenge.
Republican-led states have passed numerous bills targeting trans youth in the last two years, including what are called “bathroom bills” like Idaho’s and bans on gender-affirming medical treatments for minors.
The Idaho law allows students to sue schools for $5,000 if they encounter a transgender student in a bathroom the law forbids. It effectively puts a “bounty” on transgender students and encourages others to search them out, the lawsuit says.
The motion alleges transgender students would be irreparably harmed by being subjected to “profound stigma” and put at higher risk of depression, anxiety and self-harm.
Spokespersons for Little and for Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador declined to comment. The Idaho Board of Education, which is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“There is no evidence that inclusive policies allowing transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender have caused any problems,” Kell Olson of Lambda Legal, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.
“In fact, for years Idaho schools have implemented inclusive policies without harming anyone and only helping to make transgender youth feel safer and more welcome at school.”
The new law says schools must provide a “reasonable accommodation” for transgender students unwilling or unable to use their assigned bathroom.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Howard Goller)
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