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Idaho law preserves children’s privacy in schools

Idaho attorney general, ADF attorneys ask 9th Circuit to allow state law to take effect
Related Case:
Girl with a backpack getting on the school bus

SEATTLE – Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, together with attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a brief Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, urging it to uphold a district court decision that allowed Idaho to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all K-12 students in public school’s locker rooms, showers, restrooms, and overnight stays.

In March, Idaho enacted a law protecting children’s privacy by ensuring that sex-specific facilities in K-12 public schools like showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and overnight accommodations remained sex-specific, while allowing single-user facilities for those who prefer otherwise. But 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 ruled to uphold Idaho’s common-sense law, the activists appealed, and the 9th Circuit granted them an injunction pending appeal, halting enforcement of the law.

“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. We urge the 9th Circuit to reverse its injunction and allow Idaho to continue protecting all the State’s students.”

The brief in Roe v. Critchfield explains that Idaho’s law protects student privacy and safety by requiring sex-specific spaces “where students must undress together in locker rooms, share a shower room, or share a bed overnight.” The brief adds that “the manifest need for those laws—as shown by the consequences in jurisdictions that lack them—makes it impossible for [those who ignore children’s privacy concerns] to prevail on their facial challenge and illustrates why a sex-based rule has applied in intimate spaces since time immemorial. Such laws protect sex-specific safety and privacy, which explains why Title IX contains statutory and regulatory provisions allowing sex-based designations in private spaces.”

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.