Rejecting a directive from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a school district in the suburbs of Chicago says it will continue to deny a female transgender student access to a girls' locker room.
High School District 211, based in Palatine, Ill., has issued a statement explaining its reasoning for refusing to abide by the federal directive.
"After serious and lengthy consideration, the district will continue to provide private accommodations for transgender students to ensure a respectful school environment, and will not allow unrestricted access to its locker rooms as directed by OCR," the district says.
The stance could cost the district several millions of dollars in federal funds.
The district announced its position on transgender students and locker room use in response to a complaint filed with the OCR by a student and the student’s family seeking unrestricted access to the locker room. The student and the high school involved have 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.
The district says its decision rejecting the federal directive is motivated by a desire to ensure the privacy of other students using the locker room.
"The goal of the district in this matter is 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 district says.
Despite its stance on locker room access, District 211 asserts that it has supported and continues to support transgender students and their families, "while always balancing the rights and concerns of all the students it serves."
In taking its position, the district acknowledges that it is risking litigation and a possible loss of federal funds.
"The OCR has taken the position that the District’s decision not to allow unrestricted access to the locker room is inadequate and discriminatory," the district says. "The OCR has directed that transgender students should have full access to sex-specific locker rooms for changing during physical education classes and after-school activities. Likely litigation and enforcement action, including the potential loss of federal education funds, may be imposed by the OCR."
The Daily Herald reports that District 211 could lose $6 million a year in federal funding by defying the OCR's directive.