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Illinois Sets the Standard for Transgender Student Rights
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Summary: The rules of who can use a girls and boys locker room at school have become fuzzy with the emergence of more transgender students.

Transgender student rights cases are popping up all over the country as the acceptance of being transgender is growing. Federal education authorities have taken a stance by declaring that an Illinois school district violated the rights of a transgender student.


The case in Illinois stemmed from a school permitting a transgender student that identifies as a girl to play on girls’ sports team but not use the girls’ locker room. The issue of allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with instead of biologically classified as has been controversial.

The decision by the education department is the first on the issues that transgender students face. Most school districts have been able to reach agreements, but this Illinois district has not, causing the department to threaten sanctions if they do not comply. The school district north of Chicago has 30 days to reach an agreement or face legal action that may result in them losing Title IX funding.

The anti-discrimination part of the Title IX requires students to have an equal access to school programs and activities. The school district disagrees with this interpretation, calling it “a serious overreach with precedent-setting implications.” The district had developed a plan for the student to change behind a privacy curtain in the girls’ locker room.

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The student has been given every other courtesy, but the school wanted her to change behind the curtain to address the privacy concerns of all the other students involved. A number of students and parents were upset when the student entered the locker room on previous occasions. As lawyers from the Thomas More Society point out, a locker room is significantly different than a bathroom with stalls, “the school has shown that they are sensitive to the needs of this transgender student but also to the needs of all the other students.”




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