School district faces off against government over transgender student locker rooms

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PALATINE, Ill. -- A suburban school district is defying the federal government over locker room accommodations for a transgender student.  The school is now facing accusations of discrimination after a decision that could put federal funding at risk for the largest high school system in the state.

Township High School District 211 says it’s trying to do the right thing for all of it 12,000 students, not just one.

The case involves a transgender student who identifies as female and wants to use the girls’ locker room at her school. She’s taken her case to the ACLU and filed a complaint with the Federal Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education. It has ordered District 211 to allow her access to the girls’ facilities.

But today, the district announced it’s going another way and providing the student with a private changing area, which it says ensures privacy for “all its students.”

District 211 Superintendent Daniel Cates said, “In the past, we have not had opposite-sex students in the locker rooms and to have opposite-sex students in the locker rooms in areas that are open, that are available for showering, that area available for changing clothes. that is a matter that we take very seriously and this policy would undo that."

It’s a choice that puts this district at odds with the federal government and could jeopardize its federal funding.

Worst of all, it says the ACLU amounts to discrimination against a young person who could be extremely vulnerable.

“Transgender people face a number of problems at school, in particular with bullying and harassment,” said John Knight of the ACLU,  “This just makes things worse for a very vulnerable group of people.”

Neither the district nor the ACLU will identify the student, but the ACLU says she’s been living as a female for a number of years now and has been well-accepted by other students here.