Uncle Sam isn’t going to let schools place certain restrictions on how transgender students use a single-sex locker room.
A school district near Chicago, Palatine 211, provides numerous accommodations for transgender students. The district calls the students by requested names, honors selected gender (including allowing them to play on the sports teams of the gender they identify as belonging to), and permits them to use single-sex bathrooms, since stalls ensure privacy.
But the federal government has decided that the district is still guilty of violating Title IX, the law prohibiting sex-based discrimination, over certain locker room restrictions.
“District 211 is not excluding transgender students from their gender-identified locker room,” said district superintendent Daniel Cates in a statement. “Though our position has been inaccurately reported, a transgender student may use his or her gender-identified locker room simply by utilizing individual measures of privacy when changing clothes or taking showers.”
That’s unacceptable to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
“All students deserve the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities—this is a basic civil right. Unfortunately, Township High School District 211 is not following the law because the district continues to deny a female student the right to use the girls’ locker room,” said Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, in a statement.
According to the Associated Press, “District 211 has 30 days to change the policy, or risk losing millions in federal funding.”
As Cates, the superintendent, puts it bluntly in his statement: “The students in our schools are teenagers, not adults, and one’s gender is not the same as one’s anatomy. Boys and girls are in separate locker rooms—where there are open changing areas and open shower facilities—for a reason.”
Students should not be forced to share open changing areas with students who retain the anatomy of a different sex, even if such students identify as being the same sex. This is just common sense. It also honors the privacy rights of students, who understandably may feel uncomfortable with open area changing that includes students of both biological sexes.
In a report released Monday, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights acknowledged the arguments made by District 211 regarding the privacy rights of the non-transgender students:
The District raised two specific constitutional privacy concerns. First, the District contends that ‘permitting Student A to be present in the locker room would expose female students to being observed in a state of undress by a biologically male individual.’ The District’s second stated privacy concern is that it would be inappropriate for young female students to view a naked male in the locker room in a state of undress. The District stated that ‘[g]ranting Student A the option to change her clothes in the girls’ locker room would expose female students as young as fifteen years of age to a biologically male body.’
The Department of Education’s response? “OCR [Office of Civil Rights] finds the concerns unavailing in this case.”
It’s clear that the federal government is putting the preferences of transgender students ahead of the privacy rights of other students. That’s discrimination—against students who, reasonably and fairly, don’t want to be forced into intimate situations with those of the opposite sex biologically.