Parent group opposes compromise in Dist. 211 transgender case

A newly formed parents group is opposing any compromise between Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights regarding a transgender student's access to locker rooms.

The District 211 school board is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the cafeteria of Conant High School to discuss a proposed settlement with the federal agency, which has called district policy for transgender students discriminatory.

Though the group, District 211 Parents for Privacy, does not yet know the terms of the proposed agreement, member Vicki Wilson said she and the others are against any compromise at all.

Wilson said that after discussion with attorneys from the organizations Alliance Defending Freedom and the Thomas More Society, her group believes District 211's position regarding locker room access would be deemed legal by a judge were it to reach federal court.

District 211 has provided a separate changing space within a girls' locker room for the transgender student to change.

But the Office for Civil Rights recently sided with the student and the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that the policy treats the student differently from any other girl - the gender she identifies as - and represents unlawful discrimination.

Despite that finding, District 211 officials have so far stood firm that their position protects all students' privacy. The district has even indicated it would risk approximately $6 million in federal funding through Title IX, a law prohibiting sex discrimination.

Wilson said her group believes District 211 risks greater damage from lawsuits if it allows a transgender student with male body parts unrestricted access to the girls' locker room. She said some damage already is being done by allowing the transgender student to travel to and from the separate changing area within the locker room.

"We do know that the administration has provided open access to the bathrooms," Wilson added. "We felt left out of the conversation in that regard."

District 211 officials say bathrooms are different because, unlike locker rooms, they have individual stalls.

At Wednesday's meeting, District 211 school board members will discuss the proposed agreement in closed session, but any official action will take place afterward in open session.

District 211 spokesman Tom Petersen said Monday that district officials have not had any direct conversations with the parents group, but they've moved Wednesday's meeting to Conant, 700 E. Cougar Trail in Hoffman Estates, in anticipation of a large crowd.

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