The Obama administration has given a Chicago-area school district one month to allow a transgender student full use of a girls locker room or else it could be stripped of millions in federal funding.
The Civil Rights Office of the United States Department of Education has deemed that Township High School District 211 in Palatine, Illinois, has violated Title IX, a law that prohibits discrimination based on sex, because it will not grant an unidentified biological male student unconditional use of the girls locker room and showers.
After the unidentified student filed a complaint with the CRO in 2013, the CRO and school district have spent nearly two years negotiating the issue.
The school has made multiple accommodations for the transgender students in its five high schools, such as allowing them to use the bathroom of their identified sex, changing their names and pronouns on school records and offering to establish a special curtained off changing area in the locker room for the student to use before and after physical education.
However, the negotiation between the two sides reached an "impasse" over the issue of whether the school district would require the transgender student to use the curtained off changing room and prohibit the student from using the open area of the locker room where female classmates are changing.
A CRO report released Monday said requiring the student to use the curtained off area is a violation of the law because it subjects the student to "different rules of behavior" than the rest of the school. The report states that the school district must allow the student full access to the girls locker room within 30 days.
If the district does not comply then it could be subject to enforcement measures from the Department of Education, such as suspension or termination of its federal funding.
According to the Daily Herald, the school district's annual budget is $240 million with $6 million coming from the federal government.
The school district maintains that it has not done anything wrong and its unwillingness to allow the transgender student full use of the locker room is so that the privacy of female students would not be compromised.
"The students in our schools are teenagers, not adults, and one's gender is not the same as one's anatomy," Superintendent Daniel Cates said in a statement sent to OCR. "Boys and girls are in separate locker rooms — where there are open changing areas and open shower facilities — for a reason."
Cates remains adamant that his school district has not violated the law. He further warned that the Obama administration is trying to exercise a blatant overreach of its powers.
"We recognize that this is an emerging and critical matter for school districts nationwide. The policy that OCR seeks to impose on District 211 is a serious overreach with precedent-setting implications," Cates asserted.
Cates stated that the school district won't be bullied into being told what is and what isn't against the law.
"District 211 continues to believe that what we offer is reasonable and honors every student's dignity," Cates continued. "While the District will continue what have been productive settlement negotiations with OCR, the district is prepared to engage in all avenues of due process to determine whether our position of honoring the rights of all the students is within the law."
The American Civil Liberties Union, the legal group representing the student, released a statement on behalf of the student applauding the CRO's report and edict.
"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.'"
As the Department of Education is trying to coerce schools into allowing transgender students access to the locker and shower rooms of the genders they identify with, an op-ed from the New York Post editorial board asserts that the department's action "railroads over other student's privacy rights."
"However the kid in question 'identifies,' that doesn't change the reality of what others see in that locker room," the op-ed argues. 'Federal bureaucrats have no business rewriting the law to deny that reality. Nothing in U.S. law suggests these 'trans' rights, and no one could possibly believe Congress ever intended to create them."
"Cultural 'progressives' have embraced the transgender-rights agenda, but the public hasn't," the op-ed continues. "Yes, Americans today are more willing to play along with 'I identify as' — but not to the point of pretending sexual organs don't exist."
In proving the editorials point that the "public hasn't" embraced the transgender movement, Houstonians voted on Tuesday to throw out a nondiscrimination ordinance passed by Houston's City Council last year that gave transgender individuals the right to use the bathrooms and changing rooms of the gender they identified with.