Education Law

School's pact with feds over transgender locker room access sparks new lawsuit

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A settlement by a suburban Chicago school district of a transgender high school student’s federal civil rights complaint over locker room access has now sparked new litigation.

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Chicago, a group of about 50 parents and students at Township High School in Palatine allege that the settlement violates privacy rights of female students required to share a locker room with the transgender student, the Chicago Tribune (reg. req.) reports.

“This is a daily problem for the girls at the school because physical education is a daily class. They’re in a constant state of fear and anxiety over having to change clothes and undress in a facility where a biological male is present,” attorney Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defending Freedom tells the newspaper. He represents plaintiffs in the case.

Both Township High School District 211 and the U.S. Department of Education are named as defendants, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, Cook County and the state of Illinois. The suit alleges that the defendants are misapplying Title IX, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex in public schools.

The Tribune article doesn’t include any comment from the defendants. However, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which has represented the transgender student in the locker-room access matter, described the suit as a “sad development by groups opposed to fair and humane treatment of all students, including those who are transgender.”

“We are confident that fairness for students who are transgender will prevail,” a spokesman told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday the Justice Department sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina that the state’s recently passed legislation that restricts public bathroom use for transgender individuals violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

Related coverage: “Suburban Chicago school board OKs full locker room access for transgender student”

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