Dist. 211: Meeting with Office of Civil Rights productive

Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 officials met with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights Wednesday to discuss the investigation into whether the school district's policy on transgender students' access to locker rooms violates federal law.

Though neither party would release details of the discussion, District 211's Director of Communications Tom Petersen issued a statement on behalf of the district.

"Today's discussion was collaborative and productive," the statement reads. "We continue to work with OCR in a conscientious attempt to reach a resolution regarding this individual case. Although we're hopeful that a resolution can be achieved, some critical issues remain undefined and we are working diligently to find a workable solution that honors our commitments to the privacy of all students both now and in the future."

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the transgender student who filed a complaint with the OCR last year over District 211's policy.

Under the policy, the district is providing a separate changing area for transgender students within the locker rooms of the gender they identify as. The ACLU argues that practice is unlawful discrimination.

Earlier this week, two religious-based organizations - the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Thomas More Society - sent District 211 a letter citing case law they say shows the district's position is legal.

Petersen said District 211 is declining comment on the letter.

District 211 Superintendent Dan Cates has said he is confident that the district is not violating the law, but concedes its position may jeopardize some or all of its Title IX federal funds, intended to prohibit sex discrimination. Last year, the district received $6 million in Title IX money.

The OCR has set a Friday deadline for District 211 to allow the transgender student unrestricted access to a girls locker room in the district. District officials do not intend to sign the letter.

Jake Lytle, a senior at Fremd High School, has started an online petition asking the district to allow transgender students to change openly in the locker room of their gender identity. The petition had 652 signatures as of Wednesday.

Cates said he is familiar with Lytle's effort, but added that such petitions aren't always worded in a way that addresses the precise issue the district is facing.

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