Mother of transgender District 211 student speaks out
The mother of the transgender student in Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 at the center of a national controversy about locker rooms said her daughter declared herself a girl when she was only 4 and as a child was distraught over her growing male anatomy.
The mother spoke out in a blog post this week on the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois website. Neither she nor her child were named in the post, but ACLU officials identify the writer as the mother of the transgender student who is fighting for open access to the girls locker rooms at her District 211 high school.
"The district wrongly assumes what many who are not educated about the issue assume; that what makes a girl a girl and a boy a boy is simple anatomy," the mother writes.
As a young child, she played with dolls, begged to wear girls' clothes and insisted on wearing a Hannah Montana wig. (Read the blog post at http://www.aclu-il.org/our-child-is-a-girl/).
"We were still shocked and ill-prepared when, at the end of seventh grade, our daughter again told us that she was a girl and had to live openly as one," the mother wrote.
"This is a difficult concept to grasp. However, just because something is difficult to understand, does not mean we should mock it or deny its existence."
District 211 allows its transgender students to use the bathrooms and play on the sports teams of the gender they identify with. They can officially change their names on district documents.
The district also allows them to use the locker rooms of their gender identification -- stipulating that they shower and change privately. Allowing a student with male anatomy to be naked in a girls locker room jeopardizes the privacy of the girls using that locker room, they argue.
District 211 Superintendent Dan Cates responded to the blog post in a statement.
"District 211 has long recognized and been responsive to the needs of our transgender students, dealing sensitively and effectively with the challenges they face," it said. "The students in our schools are teenagers, not adults, and one's gender is not the same as one's anatomy," he added. "Our responsibility as school administrators is to protect the privacy rights of all our students."
In her blog post, the mother says District 211's position amounts to segregating her child from other students, which makes them think it is OK to bully her. Her daughter was bullied every day in junior high, she said, and was not allowed to use the girls' restroom or locker room or to participate in girls' sports.
"The emotional toll this took on her broke our hearts and we vowed to do all we could to ensure she never had to endure this kind of abuse in high school," she writes. "There were times she was inconsolable and all we could do was hold her and tell her that we loved her and would continue to advocate on her behalf."
The mother added the family has consulted medical professionals, support groups, their church and friends while on the road to acceptance. Their daughter's name has been legally changed, her passport identifies her as female.
She says they also submitted medical records to District 211 that say her daughter has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and is receiving hormone injections.
"Despite the overwhelming evidence that my daughter is a girl, the institution that is charged with educating and enlightening our children, was only concerned with her body," she wrote. The mother says her daughter has been disciplined for using the girls' locker room.
The family filed a complaint against District 211 and on Nov. 2 the Office for Civil Rights ruled District 211 is violating the anti-discriminatory Title IX law by denying the student unrestricted access to the girls locker room.
The OCR issued a letter giving District 211 30 days to conform with the office's understanding of Title IX requirements or face enforcement action.
The story has gotten national attention, but neither the student nor her family have granted requests for interviews. In her blog post, the mother wrote that her family has been hurt by some comments posted online, but overall they are glad the discussion is taking place.