Washington State could lose as much as $4.4575 billion annually in federal funding—and much of it for the state's public schools—if voters pass anti-trans bathroom initiative 1515, according to a new report.
Nine percent of Washington State's K-12 funding comes from the federal government. But a fiscal analysis of the proposed ballot measure from the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law found that those school funds, roughly equivalent to $1 billion a year, would be in jeopardy if I-1515 passes the November ballot.
For a state already unconstitutionally underfunding its public schools, the loss of federal funding would be devastating. And report authors say their estimates are conservative.
The way it's worded now, I-1515 mandates that public school bathrooms and locker rooms be sex-segregated—and exclude transgender people with different genitalia. The law would allow public and private organizations to keep transgender people out of the bathrooms that align with their gender identities, and additionally let students to sue their schools if gender-segregated spaces accommodate trans kids.
"If I-1515 is passed, it would explicitly require that restrooms are gender segregated by biological sex, which is in direct contradiction with Title IX," Amira Hasenbush, one of the authors of the report, told The Stranger. "So that would be a direct conflict, and schools can be denied federal funding if they're in conflict with Title IX and Title VII."
Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination, which encompasses discrimination based on gender identity according to the US Department of Education, in federally funded education programs. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers employment discrimination.
The Williams Institute analysis also found that I-1515 would put funding for higher education at risk. Washington's public colleges could lose as much as $560 million a year. Federal student loan funding could take a hit of $2.7 billion.
"[I-1515] could be interpreted to mean that all government entities are required to segregate restrooms by biological sex," Hasenbach explained. "If it's interpreted in that way, it could also be applied to higher education. The Supreme Court has held that if there's a Title IX violation, they can choose to withhold funding not just from the university, but student loan funding as well."
The UCLA authors report that I-1515 could further cause the state to lose $65 million for federal workforce training programs, $130 million in federal contracts, and $2.5 million in grants authorized by the Violence Against Women Act.
On Wednesday, the US Department of Justice wrote to North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, explicitly warning the governor that North Carolina's anti-trans bathroom measure House Bill 2 violates Title IX and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. North Carolina, which received $861 million last year for its K-12 system and $1.4 billion for the University of North Carolina, now risks losing its federal education money.
I-1515 hasn't yet collected the 246,372 signatures it needs to qualify for the November ballot, but anti-trans group Just Want Privacy continues to gather names. Joseph Backholm, Just Want Privacy campaign chairman, did not immediately return a request for comment on the UCLA findings.