On Monday Nov. 2, the Department of Education issued a report finding Palatine Township District 211 in violation of Title IX anti-discrimination laws after a transgender student was not allowed full access to the locker room of her choice.
The student, who remains unidentified, has been offered access to the girls’ locker room, but only on the basis that she changes in a private area. With the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, the student filed a complaint against the District.
Now with less than thirty days to make a decision, District 211 must either comply with the Department of Education’s requirements or risk losing their Title IX funding.
Interviews with various news sources, such as FOX and The Daily Herald, show that the District remains staunch in their current policy.
Superintendent Daniel Cates declined an interview with Cutlass, but said to the The Daily Herald, “We believe that we would be compromising other students’ privacy if we did this. We do not believe we are discriminating.”
Several students agree with the District’s position on the matter.
“It may cause discomfort and uneasiness among students to see a student of the opposite biological gender change their clothes in front of them,” a student, who wished to remain anonymous, from Palatine High School said.
This potential discomfort is one of the primary reasons for the District’s decision.
“Our goal is always to protect the rights of students and make sure that everybody feels accepted and welcome,” Gary Steiger, the Principal of Palatine High School, said in an interview with Cutlass.
He discussed the individual accommodations that Palatine already has in place for transgender students. Historically, because “each student is different,” Steiger has tried to approach each situation personally, but with the lawsuit, it has become necessary to standardize these arrangements throughout the district.
“We want to respect each student individually, so we will continue to work with individual students in terms of what it is they would feel comfortable with, but there will eventually be a district outline,” Steiger said.
But while several students back the District, many do not. In a poll conducted at Palatine High School, 270 students were asked whether or not transgender students should be allowed full access to the locker room of their choice.
Cutlass found that over 75% of the students in the poll opposed the District’s decision.
“Governmental mandates aside, the person in question is of the gender of the locker room that they are trying to change in, regardless of whether they are cisgender or transgender,” senior Jordan Kalina said in response to the poll. “And on a lighter note, people are shy changing in locker rooms anyway. If a person transitioning from female to male was changing next to me, I certainly wouldn’t be able to tell.”
A similar response has been heard from Fremd High School. Senior Jake Lytle started an online petition to give his fellow students a chance to voice their opinions on the matter. The petition, according to the Chicago Tribune, has received over 700 signatures supporting the transgender student.
Updated on Nov. 8, 2015.