Tuesday, October 13, 2015
This past year has brought a supreme court case in Maine, several complaints with the Office for Civil Rights, and federal litigation over transgender students' access to restroom and locker facilities. In all those instance, save the federal lawsuit, the student has won. The most significant current holdout, however, appears to be Illinois' largest school district, Palatine-based Township High School District 211. A transgender student there is seeking access to the girls' locker room. The district rejected her request. The district's explanation is that the "privacy rights of 12,000 students" outweigh the interest of the individual student seeking access. To permit a transgender student access would "infringe on the privacy of all the students that we serve," according to the superintendent. The ACLU assisted the student in filing a complaint over a year ago with the Office for Civil Rights. OCR responded that the district was violating Title IX, but the district still refuses to grant the student access. Most districts buckle after a negative finding by OCR. Now that this district has not, the question is whether OCR will be able to carve out some face-saving middle ground remedy or whether it will move toward the ultimate sanction of withdrawing federal funds.