The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has ruled that High School District 211 in Palatine, Ill., is violating federal anti-discriminatory laws by denying a transgender student who identifies as female unrestricted access to a girls' locker room.
The Daily Herald reports that the OCR has give the district 30 days to conform with Title IX requirements or face enforcement action. In deciding that it would not grant the transgender student access to a girls' locker room, the district acknowledged earlier this month that its position could result in a legal fight and loss of federal funding. Last year, the district received $6 million in Title IX money.
"The OCR finds by the preponderance of the evidence that the district is in violation of Title IX for excluding [the student] from participation in and denying her the benefits of its education program, providing services to her in a different manner, subjecting her to different rules of behavior, and subjecting her to different treatment on the basis of sex," OCR Regional Director Adele Rapport wrote in a letter to District 211 Superintendent Daniel Cates.
The student, who has not been identified, said in a news release from the American Civil Liberties Union that she was pleased by the ruling.
“The Department of Education’s decision makes clear that what my school did was wrong," she says. "I hope no other student, anywhere, is forced to confront this indignity. It is a good day for all students, but especially those who are transgender all across the nation.”
The ACLU filed a complaint in 2013 with the Office of Civil Rights on behalf of the student. The school she was attending has not been identified. District 211 has more than 12,000 students in five high school--two in Palatine, two in Hoffman Estates and one in Schaumburg.
“What our client wants is not hard to understand. She wants to be accepted for who she is and to be treated with dignity and respect--like any other student,” says John Knight, Director of the LGBT & HIV Project of the ACLU of Illinois. “The district’s insistence on separating my client from other students is blatant discrimination. Rather than approaching this issue with sensitivity and dignity, the district has attempted to justify its conduct by challenging my client’s identity as a girl.”
In the complaint, the student sought an order to stop the district from requiring her to change clothes in a space separate from other girls.
The district has stated that its decision rejecting the federal directive is motivated by a desire to ensure the privacy of other students using the locker room.