In a move that could pit women’s advocates and transgender activists against each other, the Education Department has opened an investigation into an alleged incident involving a trans-identifying student exposing his male genitalia to freshman girls.
The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which investigates schools for potential violations of the anti-sex discrimination statute Title IX, said Wednesday that it would look into the incident, which occurred in March. The investigation comes as a response to a complaint filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL).
In its response to WILL’s complaint OCR says that it will investigate “Whether the [Sun Prairie Area School] District responded to a report of sexual harassment consistent with the requirements of Title IX.”
An investigation does not mean that OCR will determine the school district acted inappropriately when a student reported that a biologically male student identifying as a female entered the girls’ locker room and showered naked next to four freshman girls and exposed his male genitalia to them.
While Title IX in recent years has been used to adjudicate allegations of sexual assault and harassment, the Biden administration has signaled it would use the statute to punish schools for not adhering to the administration’s transgender ideology.
The incident occurred on March 3, The Daily Wire previously reported, at Sun Prairie East High School in Wisconsin. When the four freshman girls entered the lockers, they found a senior male student, believed to be 18 years old at the time, in the room that contained the lockers and benches. The girls said the student wasn’t in the class with them, but proceeded to the shower area even though they were uncomfortable. They were aware that the student identified as transgender and had used girls’ bathrooms previously.
The girls showered with their bathing suits on, which was common practice. Just when they started to shower, the transgender student fully undressed and entered the shower next to one of the girls. The student was initially facing the wall but then turned toward the four girls, exposing his male genitalia to all four freshmen.
The girls didn’t know what to do and didn’t immediately report the incident, but after one girl told another student what happened, that student said they should report it. Three days after the incident in the shower, the uninvolved student reported it to student services. The incident should have been reported under Title IX, but Associate Principal Heidi Walter didn’t report the incident to the Title IX coordinator, and instead asked for the names of the students involved, according to WILL.
On March 10, the student who reported the incident had gained permission to provide the students’ names and was ready to do so, but Walter said that the girls could approach her if they wanted. She later admitted, according to WILL, that she should have “dug deeper” into the issue.
The four girls should have been provided supportive measures under Title IX, but instead, the school focused on the transgender student, WILL said. EHS’ principal did, however, apologize to a parent in an email by saying the incident “should not have happened” and vowing to “continue to work to ensure no one has a similar experience,” though she didn’t outline any steps the school would take.
WILL said that the Sun Prairie Area School District dismissed the rights and concerns of the freshmen girls while assuring parents that the issue had been resolved. The district also pointed to its “Restroom and Locker Room Accessibility Guidance,” which may not have even been in effect. The guidance, according to WILL, suggests that if a transgender student “makes any request regarding the use of locker rooms,” the school will evaluate the request. The policy says nothing about students who don’t make requests, if permission is required, or who makes the determination on the student’s request.
The school district’s policy says that a “student who is transgender, nonbinary, or gender expansive will be permitted to access the men’s/women’s segregated restrooms in accordance with the student’s gender identity that the student regularly asserts at school and in other social environments.”
It further states that any “Student who has a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason, may be provided with access to a single-access restroom where such a facility is reasonably available, but no student shall be required to use such a restroom because of the student’s transgender, nonbinary, or gender expansive status.”
The school district has also released a statement saying it stands by “LGBTQIA+ students and staff,” taking “seriously our responsibility to provide safe, nondiscriminatory, and inclusive environments for people of all orientations and identities as they reflect our diverse community around us.”
The statement also says that “all children will be safe and loved in our schools,” which WILL argued has not been upheld in this case.