A superintendent in a suburban Chicago school is considering backing out of her decision to allow a transgender student use of the girls’ locker room. The news comes after the superintendent became “angered” at the way a federal official described the agreement. Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press explains:
“School officials in a suburban Chicago district said Friday they may back out of a newly minted deal with the U.S. Department of Education allowing a transgender student to use a girls’ locker room, over a dispute about a hypothetical: What would happen if the girl decided against using the privacy curtains she’s agreed to use?”
The student, who was born a male, previously made claims of discrimination against the school board when they did not allow her access to the locker room for girls, where she says she feels more comfortable as opposed to the boys’ locker room. She filed her complaints with the Federal Office for Civil Rights. The school district agreed to grant access to the girls’ locker room to the transgender student in an unprecedented decision. GPB News shares that the decision came after months of negotiations.
The board may recant that decision, however. A reporter for the Chicago Tribune stated that the district officials for the school are now expressing anger towards the Office for Civil Rights, claiming that they exhibited a “blatant disregard for the facts.” The district released a statement on Friday which said:
“We are outraged by the mischaracterizations. It is wrong, it is an act of bad faith, and our school district will not let it stand. … Citizens have a right to expect more from a federal agency than smoke and mirrors.”
Just a day after the agreement was made, Daniel Cates, Superintendent of the Township High School in District 211, issued the statement expressing her anger over a federal official’s portrayal of her decision. Cates had made it clear that unless the student used the privacy curtains when she changed or showered, she would not be allowed unrestricted access to the girls’ locker room. Federal officials, however, pointed out that the agreement does not specify that the student will be required to use the curtain.
Cates and the school district are now demanding a retraction from the Office for Civil Rights of its comments about the agreement and Cates’ decision. If the federal officials do not make a reversal of their statements, the district warns that it will “consider calling an emergency meeting to discuss taking action, “including the potential retraction of the agreement.’”
In addition to the confusion over the required use of a privacy curtain, the school district is also accusing federal officials of “erroneously stating that the agreement represents a districtwide policy, rather than applying only to the student in question.”
There are also questions about other restrictions in the agreement, which states that:
“Based on Student A’s representation that she will change in private changing stations in the girls’ locker room, the District agrees to provide Student A access to locker room facilities designated for female students at school.”
The ACLU and federal officials, however, maintain that the student must be allowed to choose whether or not she will use the private changing areas, but she cannot be forced to do so.