Metro Weekly

Federal judge refuses to block Illinois trans students’ locker room access

Judge Jorge Alonso rebuts claims that students' privacy is violated by presence of trans peers in locker rooms

Photo: W.carter, via Wikimedia.

A federal judge has refused to block transgender students from accessing the appropriate locker room at Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill.

The decision came after a student, known as “Student A,” sued the school district in 2015 over the right to use the girls’ locker room. She has since graduated from the school, reports The Daily Herald.

At the time, the Obama administration’s Department of Education determined that banning her from the locker room violated her rights under Title IX.

The district subsequently reached an agreement with the federal government that allowed Student A to use the locker room, but required her to change in a privacy stall. That agreement expired upon Student A’s graduation.

But Judge Jorge Alonso refused to issue an injunction to block all transgender students from using the locker room that matches their gender identity, despite demands from Students and Parents for Privacy, a group comprised of social conservatives and concerned parents.

In his decision, Alonso cited the availability of privacy stalls — available to any student who wishes to use them — as a mitigating factor.

“This case does not involve the forced or extreme invasions of privacy that the courts addressed in the cases cited by plaintiffs,” Alonso wrote. “Further, the restrooms at issue here have privacy stalls that can be used by students seeking an additional layer of privacy, and single-use facilities are also available upon request. Given these protections, there is no meaningful risk that a student’s unclothed body need be seen by any other person.”

LGBTQ advocates praised the decision, saying that conservatives’ claims of violation of privacy are overblown.

“Throughout this litigation, one thing remains clear: The groups who filed this case remain unable to demonstrate any harm to their clients from sharing restrooms and locker rooms with students who they perceive as different,” John Knight, the director of the LGBTQ Project of the ACLU of Illinois. “The plaintiffs’ fear-mongering and persistent refusal to respect the core gender of these students cannot change the simple fact that there is no legal justification for requiring District 211 to separate and stigmatize transgender students because of who they are.”

But Students and Parents for Privacy say they are considering appealing Alonso’s decision.

“It’s not over. We will not rest until the privacy rights, dignity and well-being of all students are protected equally,” the group posted on its Facebook page.

District 211 is also defending itself against a lawsuit by another transgender student at Palatine High School, who argued that she should be allowed to use the girls’ locker room without being relegated to using a privacy stall. That lawsuit is ongoing.

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