Chicago District Fighting Lawsuit on Transgender Bathroom Access

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Although the argument over the use of locker rooms by transgender students was returned to Chicago's federal courthouse this week, US Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert said he would not be ruling on the request immediately, according to WMAQ-TV.

Lawyers representing a group of students and parents who had hoped Judge Gilbert would intervene want the judge to stop a transgender pupil from using the girls' locker room. The defendants are Students and Parents for Privacy, which is an "unincorporated association" of 51 families with ties to the Palatine-based Township High School District 211.

The student is entering her senior year at William Fremd High School. She is female in every way, though she was born male, say attorneys for the school district. She has been using the girls' restroom since August of 2013, and last December the district let the girl use the girls' locker room after privacy curtains were installed. This senior is being called "Student A."

One of the lawyers for Students and Parents for Privacy demanded that the judge understand "Student A is male." He added that his clients have the right to expect their locker room to be "free of a male student." He also insisted that there was no "subjective definition of sex."

Sheila Lieber, an attorney for the US Department of Education, stated that Student A "is a female" who was discriminated against when she was" not allowed to use the female locker room" before December. A school district lawyer, Sally Scott, pointed out that Student A uses a bathroom stall to change her clothes "or doesn't change."

A locker room attendant is present, and pupils are allowed to use private areas to change their clothes. Privacy areas, however, are not being used, said Scott.

Students and Parents for Privacy lawyer Jeremy Tedesco countered that his clients were being bullied if they chose to use a privacy area, and if they object to Student A using the locker room they are told they are "narrow-minded."

The lawsuit points out that Title IX actually mandates that schools retain single-sex restrooms and locker rooms, and it is being redefined by the Department of Education.

TheDailySignal's Kelsey Harkness quotes Tedesco who spoke after the hearing closed.

"Every parent sends their kids to school expecting that the school is going to protect them at the most basic level—their safety, their privacy, their dignity, What we're asking for is a temporary injunction that will allow the girls to continue to have single-sex facilities to themselves, free from the presence of the male students while the case is pending."

Mr. Tedesco is an attorney at the nonprofit organization Alliance Defending Freedom. This conservative group, along with the Thomas More Society, took the first step in filing the lawsuit. Earlier this year, the Education Department and the Justice Department warned the district that their federal funding could be taken away.

During the hearing, Lieber said:

"They've not come up with one example of concrete harm, let alone as to why they need relief now. The Department of Education is not required to adhere to plaintiffs' one-dimensional definition of sex."

Recently, North Carolina's House Bill 2 was challenged as well. This bill requires all residents of the state to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that coincide with their biological gender. And this month in Virginia, a school system was allowed by the Supreme Court to keep its bathrooms segregated temporarily based on the gender listed on the person's birth certificate.

It is not known when Judge Gilbert will present a ruling, but Tedesco said the issue is time-sensitive due to the opening of schools nationwide.

Wording in the lawsuit states that allegedly girls in the school "live in constant anxiety, fear and apprehension that a biological boy will walk in at any time while they are using the locker rooms and showers and see them in a state of undress or naked."

Both the ACLU of Illinois and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance intervened in this case. The ACLU sent a letter on behalf of the students and parents who support transgender pupils, pleading with the district to challenge the lawsuit and stand up for the policies that have already been put in place and have caused no disturbance, reports ProgressIllinois.

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