A transgender student’s two-year lawsuit against his high school for being barred from sex-assigned locker rooms could result in total loss of the school district’s federal funding, authorities concluded on Monday.
After the unidentified student filed a complaint with the the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the OCR made a ruling requiring the school district to allow unrestricted access to all sex-assigned locker rooms and showers before and after physical education classes and after school activities.
Palatine’s Township High School District 211 said that it will not allow the student access to the girls’ locker rooms, but it will offer private accommodations instead.
“After serious and lengthy consideration,” Daniel E. Cates, the superintendent of the high school district in Palatine, Illinois, announced in a press release, “the District will continue to provide private accommodations for transgender students to ensure a respectful school environment, and will not allow unrestricted access to its locker rooms as directed by OCR.”
The student is allegedly a biological male who has been living as a girl for a few years. Cates had said that allowing the student to shower with girls would not be in the best interest of the female students’ privacy rights, and he does not intend to give in to authorities’ demands.
However, on Monday, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights found "a preponderance of evidence" that the Palatine school officials had discriminated against the student on the basis of sex, violating Title IX. The OCR also criticized the school district for causing the student to experience “an ongoing sense of isolation and ostracism throughout her high school enrollment at the school” by not allowing him access to the girls’ locker rooms.
"Student A has not only received an unequal opportunity to benefit from the District's educational program, but has also experienced an ongoing sense of isolation and ostracism throughout her high school enrollment at the school," a letter from the OCR read.
"All students deserve the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities — this is a basic civil right," Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon said. "Unfortunately, Township High School District 211 is not following the law because the district continues to deny a female student the right to use the girls' locker room."
“District 211 is not excluding transgender students from their gender-identified locker room,” Cates said in a statement yesterday. “Though our position has been inaccurately reported, a transgender student may use his or her gender-identified locker room simply by utilizing individual measures of privacy when changing clothes or taking showers.”
Cates continued by reminding feds of basic human anatomy, “the students in our schools are teenagers, not adults, and one's gender is not the same as one's anatomy. Boys and girls are in separate locker rooms – where there are open changing areas and open shower facilities – for a reason. The District is encouraged that OCR acknowledges that the District must respect the legal rights of all students, including privacy rights."
Asked how much Monday’s ruling would affect school activities, the school district told The Daily Wire “up to $6 million.”
“The Office for Civil Rights has not issued enforcement actions yet, but the district could potentially lose up to $6 million in federal funding,” Thomas Petersen, Director of Community Relations at Township High School District 211, told The Daily Wire. “It's important to note that these funds are earmarked for the district's most at-risk students such as Title I funds, free and reduced-price meals, English Language Learners, and special education are examples.”
The district has 30 days to reach an agreement with authorities or risk having their federal funding suspended or even terminated.
"This decision makes me extremely happy — because of what it means for me, personally, and for countless others," the transgender student, whom the ACLU refuses to identify for privacy reasons, said. "The district's policy stigmatized me, often making me feel like I was not a 'normal person.'"