Dec 052015
 December 5, 2015  U.S., Youth & Schools

Just when you might have thought that the fight between District 211 in Palatine, Illinois and the Office of Civil Rights over unrestricted use of a girl’s locker room by a transgender student was over, it appears it may not be. Eric Peterson reports:

Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 officials have scheduled a special school board meeting for Monday at which the recently approved agreement over a transgender student’s access to locker rooms could be rescinded.

The district threatened Friday afternoon to reconsider the controversial agreement unless the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights stops characterizing it as giving the student unrestricted access.

Apparently, Superintendent Cates believes OCR’S statement about the agreement misrepresents it:

“On the heels of what was an appropriate and balanced approach to resolving an important issue of access to our locker rooms by one transgender student, we are outraged by the mischaracterizations in the press by Catherine Lhamon of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and her blatant disregard for the facts of the negotiated agreement.

Read more on The Daily Herald.

I had posted a link to the actual agreement previously, but am posting it here again so people can reading the wording of the actual agreement. I think the critical paragraph is this one:

1. based on Student A’s representation that she will change in private changing stations in the girls’ locker rooms, the District agrees to provide Student A access to locker room facilities designated for female students at school and to take steps to protect the privacy of its students by installing and maintaining sufficient privacy curtains (private changing stations) within the girls’ locker rooms to accommodate Student A and any students who wish to be assured of privacy while changing;

When you read that first line, I can actually understand why the District is upset. They’re probably interpreting that as “as long as she changes in a private changing station, we’ll let her access the locker room facilities,” with an implicit, “but if she doesn’t change in a private changing station, our agreement to let her use the girls locker room facilities is rescinded.”

But OCR cannot allow a district to set such conditions if a student has full rights under Title IX, so they won’t back off.

We’ll see what happens next. This very public and ongoing dispute cannot be good for the student in question – or for her peers.

  2 Responses to “District 211 threatens to abandon transgender agreement”

  1. I had to comment on your concern for the real victim in this whole issue, the transgender kid. There is no bathroom/locker room issue, there are too many policies in existence showing that, i.e. CA. Adults on both sides are voicing there petty issues through this on child. Thank you for being caring.

    • I’m not sure that there is no locker room issue going forward. What if the child in question decides she doesn’t want to use the privacy screened area? What if the next transgender child refuses to use it?

      So I think there are issues here, but rather than being adversarial, I really wish adults would put their heads together more collaboratively. OCR doesn’t need to be seen as a bully or riding roughshod over privacy issues, but they do need to draw a line if they are convinced that Title IX requires a policy and practices that the district will not unequivocally commit to.

      And yeah, it’s so sad all around. This poor child probably has so much to cope with on her young shoulders already without knowing that there is all this fighting. And the stress can’t be helping her parents or the whole family. Nor the other girls who may be getting messages from their parents that the government doesn’t care about THEIR rights.

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