CHICAGO — The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice have been sued by over 50 families for forcing a school district to allow a male student who identifies as female to use the girls’ locker room at his local high school.
“It’s a massive step backwards to force women to give up their inherent right to bodily privacy,” said Thomas More Society attorney Jocelyn Floyd in a statement. “To impose such a rule on still-developing teenage girls, as they’re already struggling with puberty’s changes on their bodies and social pressures to look a certain way, undermines their dignity and tells them that their rights don’t matter. This isn’t a message our schools should be sending to our girls.”
As previously reported, two years ago, an unidentified high school student within the Palatine-based Township High School District 211 requested to use the girls’ locker room at at William Fremd High School as he had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
But the district declined, citing the privacy concerns of the female students. It in turn offered a private location to change, but the student rejected the accommodation. He then contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a federal complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.
The Department of Education responded by opining that the district had to permit the student to use the locker room of his choice due to Title IX requirements. The two sides continued in talks for a number of months, but the district held firm on requiring privacy for female students while offering various options for the transgender student, which were refused.
It said that it desired to “to protect the privacy rights of all students when changing clothes or showering before or after physical education and after-school activities, while also providing accommodations necessary to meet the unique needs of individual students.”
The Department of Education recommended that the district install privacy curtains in the changing area so that he could not see other students changing and female students could not see him. The district installed the curtains, but as negotiations remained impasse, the department gave district officials 30 days to settle the matter under threat of penalty, including the possibility of the loss of $6 million in federal funding.
The district soon voted to allow the accommodation for the student, but not without much objection from parents. Now, 51 families, representing 73 parents and 63 students, have sued the Obama administration over the matter, contending that it has unlawfully distorted and redefined the meaning of Title IX and is forcing its wrongful interpretation on school districts.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits educational institutions from discriminating against a person based on their gender. It has generally been considered as applying to discrimination against women in treating females as inferior to males, including in sports programs.
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance,” it reads.
“As the lawsuit explains, no law—including Title IX, the federal law concerning sex discrimination at schools and colleges that receive federal education funds—requires schools to allow boys into girls’ restrooms or girls into boys’ restrooms,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing the families, said in a statement. “In fact, Title IX and its regulations specifically state that a school receiving federal funds can ‘provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex’ without putting that funding at risk.”
“Protecting students from inappropriate exposure to the opposite sex is not only perfectly legal, it’s a school district’s duty,” also said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Allowing boys into girls’ locker rooms, a setting where girls are often partially or fully unclothed, is a blatant violation of student privacy. The school district should rescind its privacy-violating policies, and the court should order the Department of Education to stop bullying school districts with falsehoods about what federal law requires.”
As previously reported, the Department of Justice sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday, demanding that the state not enforce its new law requiring the use of government restrooms to be consistent with birth gender. It gave McCrory until Monday to capitulate.