Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Department of Education tells high school that boys and girls must use same showers

A Illinois high school has been ordered by the Department of Education to allow a male transgender student to use the girls locker room and showers. If the Township High School District 211 in Palatine, Ill refuses to accommodate the male transgender student, the DOE has threatened to cut off federal funding to the district.

The DOE's civil rights division is claiming the district violated Title IX ruling with a “preponderance of evidence” by not allowing the male transgender student to use showers in the female locker room.

“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,” Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education, said.

We now have President Obama’s Department of Education applying a 1972 federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, to transgender cases.

“Student A has not only received an unequal opportunity to benefit from the District’s educational program, but has also experienced an ongoing sense of isolation and ostracism throughout her high school enrollment at the school,” the letter from the Office for Civil Rights states.

The male transgender student is being represented by the ACLU of Illinois.

“It’s one thing to say to all the girls, ‘You can choose if you want some extra privacy,’ but it’s another thing to say, ‘You, and you alone, must use them.’ That sends a pretty strong signal to her that she’s not accepted and the district does not see her as girl,” John Knight, director of the LGBT and AIDS Project at ACLU of Illinois, said.

The school district has been allowing the male transgender student to use a separate locker room and shower facility. This was so that girls using the primary girls’ locker room and shower would not feel uncomfortable or unsafe with a male student in their presence.

Township district superintendent Daniel Cates said the goal was to balance rights, accommodate the male transgender student, and "protect the privacy rights of all students when changing clothes or showering before or after physical education and after-school activities,”

“We are very hopeful that we are going to be able to work to find a solution before this gets to the matter of funding.

“If we were to implement OCR’s unilateral mandate of unconditional access, we believe it sacrifices both student privacy and overrides the will of our local board of education.”

“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," Cates said.

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