Student at center of District 211 transgender debate hopes to join lawsuit

 
 
Updated 5/26/2016 5:12 PM
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  • The student at the center of a debate over transgender rights in Palatine-Schaumburg Township District 211 is asking a federal court for permission to join a lawsuit seeking to overturn a policy allowing her limited access to a girls locker room.

      The student at the center of a debate over transgender rights in Palatine-Schaumburg Township District 211 is asking a federal court for permission to join a lawsuit seeking to overturn a policy allowing her limited access to a girls locker room. Eric Peterson | Staff Photographer

The student at the center of a debate over transgender rights at Palatine-Schaumburg Township High School District 211 formally asked a court Thursday to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to overturn district policy allowing her limited access to a girls locker room at Fremd High School.

The student, identified as Student A, is joined in the motion filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago by her parents as well as two other transgender students, their families and the Illinois Safe School Alliance, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.

"Our daughter's voice, the voice of other students who are transgender in District 211 and other concerned parties need to be heard by the public and by the court in this lawsuit," the mother of Student A said in a statement released Thursday morning. "Through these voices, we hope that others will come to understand and accept that a transgender girl is a girl and a transgender boy is a boy."

Their motion asks the court to allow them to be a party to a lawsuit filed against District 211 last month by students and parents opposed to the Palatine-based school district's policy for Student A. The policy allows Student A, who was born male but identifies as female, to use a girls locker room, but only behind a privacy curtain.

The plaintiffs, many associated with the group District 211 Parents for Privacy, argue that the policy violates the civil rights of other students, exposes them to "humiliation, anxiety, intimidation, fear, apprehension, stress," and is based in a misinterpretation of Title IX, the federal law barring sex discrimination in education.

In her statement Thursday, Student A's mother said her child does not pose a threat simply by using the bathroom and locker room that matches her identity.

"However, if our daughter is forced into the boys' locker room, she and the boys she is forced to change with will experience real emotion trauma," she said.

According to the ACLU, which is representing Student A and the others seeking to intervene, she has stopped changing in the girls' locker room at her school due to the attention of the lawsuit and the false and misleading claims made by opponents, even though District 211 officials have said policy was being implemented without incident.

"We have monitored this agreement very closely," said John Knight, LGBT Project Director at the ACLU of Illinois. "Students and school officials all have spoken to how this agreement has been implemented without any problems -- that is the reality we know."

Student A attends gym class in her street clothes, rather than changing clothes in the locker room and risking further unwarranted attention, the ACLU said.

The other students joining the suit, identified as Student B and Student C, are in feeder schools in District 211, where they will attend high school. Both are transgender boys, and fear that if the lawsuit succeeds they will not be able to use the restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity during high school, according to the ACLU.

A recent directive from the Obama administration said transgender students in public schools must be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with, but that's being challenged in federal court by 11 states.

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