Palatine, Illinois Parents, ACLU Push for Inclusive Transgender Policies

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

A group of parents and students from the Palatine, Illinois-based Township High School District 211 are calling for the complete integration of transgender students, including bathroom and locker room access. The suburban district has played a central role in the national debate on the issue.

Although the district decided under pressure from federal officials to allow the student access to the girls’ locker room, the district requested assurance from the student that she would only use the newly constructed private changing stations, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Duaa Eldeib.

However, twenty-nine parents and students published an open letter on Wednesday written to District 211. A portion of the letter said:

“We stand committed to the basic principle that no student should be left out, treated differently, or stigmatized because of who they are,” the group wrote. “We also strongly believe that discrimination towards a group of students hurts the entire District 211 community.”

The ACLU of Illinois, which released the letter, wants the district to create a policy that allows all students to use locker rooms and restrooms that correlate with their gender identity and not to require any student to change in a private stall unless they wish to do so.

Another group of parents who have children in the district’s schools sued the federal government and District 211 last month. Their complaint was that the mandate had created an “intimidating and hostile environment” for the students who share the restrooms and locker rooms with the transgender student.

The group is represented by two religious legal advocacy organizations and says the policy prevents pupils from practicing the modesty required by the standards of their religion. The lawsuit asks that each student uses the facility that corresponds to his or her biological gender. It wants the Obama administration’s Title IX position reversed, writes Progress Illinois.

The letter from the 29 dissenting parents and students also stated that the district’s policy suggests that transgender students are different and should be avoided and increases the possibility that transgender and other vulnerable young people will be singled out for bullying and harassment.

The group added that a district as large and pre-eminent as District 211 could use this issue to model fairness and respect, as have other Illinois districts and schools countrywide.

Patch Media reports that there are three transgender students in District 211. One is enrolled in Township High School, and two students are younger and attend District 211 feeder schools. All three are being represented by the ACLU Illinois, which believes that the voices and interests of the transgender students are included in the anti-LGBT lawsuit.

ACLU Illinois’ LGBT Project Director John Knight thanked Judge Jorge Alonso for granting the union’s motion to intervene in the matter, writes Eric Peterson for the Daily Herald.

“It is these students’ lives that will be adversely impacted if the anti-LGBT rights groups directing this lawsuit are successful in overturning not only the ability of one student to use the locker room consistent with her gender identity, but also the ability of all transgender students to use school facilities on an equal basis as their peers.”