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Idaho's law protects all students' privacy

24 states, advocacy groups unite in support of state law
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Lockers are seen lining an empty school hallway

SEATTLE – Twenty-four states, along with several advocacy groups, have united in support of the state of Idaho’s law that protects the privacy, safety, and dignity of all K-12 students in public school locker rooms, showers, restrooms, and overnight stays. The support came in several friend-of-the-court briefs filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Roe v. Critchfield.

Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, together with attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a brief earlier last month with the 9th Circuit, urging it to uphold a district court decision that allowed Idaho to protect children’s privacy by ensuring that showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and overnight accommodations in K-12 public schools remain sex-specific, while also ensuring the availability of single-use facilities.

“Idaho’s law affirms every student’s dignity and worth by protecting their privacy and safety in intimate spaces,” Labrador said. “Our law reflects common sense and biological reality while being sensitive and accommodating to each unique student. Our state board of education must be allowed to continue its job of preserving each student’s privacy, dignity, and safety and providing a quality education for Idaho’s children.”

“Girls and boys each deserve a private space to shower, undress, use the restroom, and sleep, and Idaho’s law respects all students’ need for privacy, safety, and dignity,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “Girls and boys are different, and our laws should recognize this truth rooted in biology. As these other states and advocates affirm, Idaho must be able to continue protecting its students.”

Activists sued Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield and the state board of education in July demanding that K-12 public schools force girls to share private spaces with men and vice-versa. After a lower court upheld Idaho’s common-sense law, the activists appealed, and the 9th Circuit granted them an injunction pending appeal, halting enforcement of the law.

“Laws like Idaho’s S.B. 1100 reflect the long-held recognition that forcing boys and girls to share bathrooms, showers, and hotel rooms would compromise the privacy, security, and safety of students, especially girls,” the brief led by Indiana and Alabama, and joined by 22 other states, explains. “[I]t is clear that maintaining separate bathrooms for boys and girls does not violate the Equal Protection Clause. Idaho…offered an exceedingly persuasive justification for its classification: protecting student privacy. The district court correctly concluded that ‘[p]rivacy is a legitimate interest supporting the constitutionality of S.B.1100’…‘considering school-age children are still developing—mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially—and asking them to expose their bodies to students of the opposite sex brings heightened levels of stress.’”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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John Bursch
John Bursch
Senior Counsel, Vice President of Appellate Advocacy
John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom.