The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights found that an Illinois district discriminated against a transgender student by failing to offer her the same facility access as other female students.
Each of the district’s five high schools have policies in place that allow transgender students to both use the restroom of their identified genderand to play on a sports team of their identified gender. However, an issue arose when it came to the locker rooms. Citing privacy, the district restricted transgender students’ use of the locker room of their gender identity.
The case began when the ACLU filed a complaint on a transgender student’s behalf in 2013. The student is a transgender female student who participates on a girls’ sports team, is referred to as “she” by school staff, is referred to by a female name, and is undergoinghormone therapy. She was denied unrestricted access to the girls’ locker room because of her transgender status.
The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights spent almost two years investigating the alleged violation under Title IX. It seemed that negotiations of the complaint would soon be ending when the school district decided to hang privacy curtains in the locker rooms. However, the district required only the transgender student to use the curtains. No other students were required to do so. Although thestudent indicated that she would probably use the curtain in the girls’ locker room, the ACLU argued that she should have to right to make that decision voluntarily and not be forced by school requirements.
OCR found that the school district’s action was a violation of the student’s rights under Title IX, which prohibits sex discriminationin education programs and activities that receive federal funding, because the district only compelled the transgender student to use the curtain. Federal officials deemed the solution insufficient.The district has 30 days to settle the matter or face an enforcement action which could involve administrative proceedings or a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice. The district could also lose its Title IX funding.