Illinois district must give full locker room access to transgender student, rules DOE

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US Department of Education Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Jeremy Harlan/CNN)

(November 3, 2015) — The U.S. Department of Education found a Chicago-area school district discriminated against a transgender student by failing to provide her full access to girls’ locker rooms.

“All students deserve the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities — this is a basic civil right,” Assistant U.S. Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon said in a statement Monday.

The student who hasn’t been publicly identified participates on a girls’ sports team, but has been required to change and shower separately from her teammates and classmates.

The DOE launched the investigation following a 2013 complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which is representing her.

“The Department of Education’s decision makes clear that what my school did was wrong,” the student said in statement from the ACLU. “I hope no other student, anywhere, is forced to confront this indignity. It is a good day for all students, but especially those who are transgender all across the nation.”

Township High School District 211 defended its stance, saying it has been responsive to the needs of its transgender students.

“We do not agree with (the DOE’s) decision and remain strong in our belief that the District’s course of action, including private changing stations in our locker rooms, appropriately serves the dignity and privacy of all students in our educational environment,” the district said in a statement.

Under the DOE’s finding, the district has been given 30 days to reach a solution or face enforcement, which could mean the loss of Title IX funding. The federal law bans sexual discrimination.

“This decision makes me extremely happy — because of what it means for me, personally, and for countless others,” the student said. “The district’s policy stigmatized me, often making me feel like I was not a ‘normal person.'”