Senate Education Committee members endorsed legislation requiring schools to provide separate bathrooms and locker rooms based on students’ gender at birth. The bill now awaits consideration by the full Senate.
Senate Bill 1100, introduced by Sen. Ben Adams (R-Nampa), “ensures that public schools maintain separate bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, dressing areas, and overnight accommodations for biological boys and biological girls.” The panel endorsed the bill in a 7-2 vote.
IEA President Layne McInelly testified against the bill with written testimony that called the bill “an attack on students in the LGBTQ+ community.”
As the Idaho Education News noted in its report on the vote, the bill is the Legislature’s first reaction to an issue that has embroiled the Caldwell School District for months.
Here’s the text of IEA President Layne McInelly’s written testimony opposing the bill:
Mr. Chairman and committee members, my name is Layne McInelly. I am president of the Idaho Education Association and a career educator who taught in the Boise School District for 12 years. Elected to my position by my colleagues, I represent thousands of public school educators across Idaho.
Committee members, I submit this testimony with grave concern about its impact on the lives, safety and education of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of Idaho students — your constituents — who consider themselves to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, whether openly or not.
One of the most fundamental principles of providing a quality education is ensuring students feel safe, welcome and confident in their schools and classrooms. Feeling safe and valued is vital to a child’s development. Learning suffers when students fear for their safety, worry about being bullied or don’t sense their teachers have high expectations for their success. In a healthy, supportive climate, students are engaged and take intellectual risks. When their learning environment feels unsafe, harsh or judgmental, their capacity to learn plummets.
That’s true for any student in any school.
However, in our public schools, funded by the taxes of all Idaho taxpayers, we have an obligation to provide a quality education to EVERY student, no matter their race, skin color, religion, disability, handicap, gender or sexual identity. In short, every student who wants to attend Idaho public schools should be able to do so with full confidence that they will be welcomed as they are.
This bill, quite plainly, is an attack on students in the LGBTQ+ community.
It WILL hurt these young people in ways immediately evident to anyone willing to see and in ways that may take decades to fully understand. It WILL hurt them developmentally, academically, emotionally and, yes, physically.
Today, is Suicide Awareness Day, and unfortunately Idaho has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the nation. And statistics show that LGBTQ+ kids are three times more likely to die by suicide than their peers. One recent national survey showed high school students who self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are more likely to be bullied at school than their straight peers. The study also showed that lesbian, gay or bisexual students report not going to school because of safety concerns at a rate twice that of straight students.
Mr. Chairman and committee members, IEA members want what is best for their ALL of their students. They seek the tools, knowledge and learning environment to provide a quality education to ALL of their students. They understand that they teach in a world where LGBTQ+ students exist — and always have — whether some in our society want to acknowledge that fact or not.
Mr. Chairman and committee members, please help our state’s educators do what is best for ALL of Idaho’s students by voting against this terrible bill.