In a recent development, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked Idaho’s controversial bathroom ban for transgender students. The law, known as SB1100, had prohibited transgender students from using school facilities aligned with their gender identity and even offered a $5,000 reward for reporting trans students who did so.
Challengers of the law argued that it violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, along with Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally-funded education programs.
The transphobic legislation in question narrowly defined sex as “immutable biological characteristics at birth,” completely disregarding the existence of intersex individuals. Furthermore, it baselessly claimed that the mere presence of transgender students could cause “psychological injury” to cisgender peers and increase the risk of sexual assault, molestation, and rape—an assertion debunked by trans independent journalist Erin Reed.
Initially, when the law came before Judge David Nye, appointed by former President Donald Trump, he blocked it for further review. However, Nye later allowed it to go into effect, challenging the Supreme Court precedent set in Bostock vs. Clayton County, which recognized gender discrimination as a form of sex discrimination. Nye contended that sex and gender are distinct concepts and that Title XI permitted “sex-segregated facilities” in schools.
Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ+ legal advocacy group, promptly appealed Nye’s decision, leading to the Ninth Circuit’s decision to block the law temporarily while both sides prepare their cases.
Erin Reed noted that appeals courts across the nation have been divided on this issue, raising the likelihood that the matter will eventually reach the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. While the Fourth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuit Courts have ruled in favor of transgender bathroom access, the Eleventh Circuit ruled in December 2022 that trans school bathroom bans do not violate Title IX. The legal battle over transgender rights in schools continues to unfold, with significant implications for LGBTQ+ students nationwide.