After more input from residents, District 211 board hints at views on transgender policy

Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board members Thursday shared some thoughts of their own after again hearing from critics and supporters of a proposed policy that would grant transgender students unrestricted access to locker rooms based on their gender identities.

The board could vote on the proposal at its next meeting Thursday, Nov. 14. Though no board members explicitly promised a particular vote, Mark Cramer and Peter Dombrowski indicated their research had made them skeptical while Steve Rosenblum, Anna Klimkowicz and Kim Cavill implied support.

Cramer, in fact, proposed the district defer a vote until the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue, but he said he would fulfill his duty as a member of the board.

Among the 25 randomly chosen speakers during the meeting, 17 opposed the policy change while eight expressed support. Only three of the speakers said they didn't live in the district, and all three were among those favoring the policy.

Cramer said he didn't believe a proposal on the policy put forth in a referendum would be approved by the district's own voters, but some of the other board members who spoke identified different criteria.

"Discrimination is unacceptable in any form," Rosenblum said.

"What I've learned is we're never going to please everyone. At this point, we have to make a change," Klimkowicz said. "I think we're really struggling with what's fair and to come up with the best solution."

The district is defending itself in a state lawsuit filed in November 2017 by Nova Maday, who was then a senior at Palatine High School. Maday, who was born male but identifies as female, argued the current practice requiring transgender students to use the privacy stalls provided in the locker rooms while other students can use their own discretion is discriminatory.

Maday's claim that classmates told her no one completely undresses in the locker rooms was directly countered by some parents who spoke Thursday. They said showering is a particular habit of swimmers.

The practice Maday is challenging was established as a compromise after another transgender student, publicly identified as Student A, filed a federal complaint in 2015 for being barred altogether from the locker room of her choice.

While Maday's lawsuit argues that that compromise doesn't go far enough, a citizens group called Students and Parents for Privacy filed a federal lawsuit in 2016 arguing that it went too far.

Students and Parents for Privacy dropped its lawsuit in April, weeks after a judge dismissed portions of it. But members of the group have been especially vocal again in recent weeks, denouncing the proposed policy of unrestricted access.

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  Audience members applaud as speakers air their views about transgender students' use of locker rooms before the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board Thursday night at Conant High School. Mark Welsh/
  Speaker Tom Schwarz of Palatine airs his views about the locker room use by transgender students at the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board meeting Thursday night at Conant High School. Mark Welsh/
  Jessica Velazquez of Des Plaines holds a sign in support of transgender students' unrestricted locker room access at the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board meeting Thursday night at Conant High School. Mark Welsh/
  Kristin Dahnert of Lindenhurst listens at the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board Thursday night at Conant High School. Mark Welsh/
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