Report from the Office for Civil Rights: Trans Students Must Be Given Locker Room Access

In Depth

A transgender student in Illinois has won a two-year victory: the Obama administration has found that her school violated Title IX by refusing to let her have full access to the women’s bathrooms and locker rooms due to the fact that she had not fully transitioned. The report, released on Monday by the Office for Civil Rights, stated that the school had discriminated against the student and caused her a great deal of emotional pain.

The Washington Post reports that the unnamed student was undergoing hormone treatment but had not undergone any sort of gender confirmation surgery when she asked to use the women’s locker room facilities at the school in 2013, and was denied. She subsequently filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, and the Post notes that the school continued to deny her access over a period of two years, during which she and the Office for Civil Rights tried and failed to negotiate.

This report comes at a critical time, and sends a clear message to schools across the country who are disputing whether or not transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that are congruent to their gender identity.

From the Post:

In states around the country, transgender students have fought for the right to use their high school facilities, with mixed results. In Virginia, a transgender teen is suing the Gloucester County School Board for the right to use the boys’ restroom. In Southern California, two trans students recently won settlements with separate school districts over alleged harassment and unequal access.

And let’s not forget that it’s not just parents, administrators, and Mike Huckabee—who would have happily pretended to be a girl if that meant he’d get to see some underage boobs—who oppose transgender students using the bathrooms and locker rooms that they’re comfortable with. Students have protested, too.

In general, trans students are sexualized automatically—often seen as sexual predators. Parents are often worried that their daughters will be “observed by intact males” while trying to change, while completely ignoring the facts that a) homosexual people already exist and are probably using the same locker rooms as their teens and that b) people just want to use the bathroom.

Here’s a great piece from Last Week Tonight on the false narratives at play:

But back to Illinois. On one hand, the Palatine school district, which is located in a progressive area, has been supportive of the unnamed trans student at the center of the current controversy to some degree—identifying her by her female name and by female pronouns, and allowing her to participate in girls’ athletics. They allowed her to use girls’ restrooms, although the Post reports that she was shamed for doing so.

Last month, the school installed privacy curtains in one locker room, mandating that the transgender student use them; another locker room remains unchanged, and off-limits. The OCR argues that this compromise is still unfair.

The report concluded by giving the school district 30 days to “negotiate an agreement” to rescind “its discriminatory denial of access to the locker rooms” for transgender students or face up to $6 million in federal funding cuts and a possible criminal investigation by the Dept. of Justice.
Both sides have suggested the Palatine standoff is a test case for the entire country.

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Image via Shutterstock

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