U-46 CEO stands by decision to accommodate transgender student
Elgin area schools' top administrator said he stands firmly by the district's decision to allow locker room access to a transgender student.
Elgin Area School District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said the district will not change its policy of accommodating all students and having adult supervision in locker rooms. He said the administration will be developing guidelines for staff members on how to address transgender students' needs.
The issue has been brewing for two weeks on Facebook and led to an outpouring of public comments at last week's school board meeting.
Dozens of people from within the district and some outsiders spoke in support of and against the administration's decision to allow a transgender middle-school student's use of the locker room corresponding with that student's gender identity at the same time as other students as of Sept. 6.
District practice previously had been to allow transgender students to change in the locker room of their choice when other students weren't present.
School board member Jeanette Ward outed the matter in a Facebook post saying the U-46 administration opted not to inform parents or the public of its decision, which sets a precedent.
Sanders said the district is barred by federal and state law from releasing personal information about specific students and that the needs of each student are addressed on a case-by-case basis.
During nearly three hours of public comments last week, several speakers lauded the administration for its handling of the matter and spoke against the bullying of LGBTQ students. Others viewed it as an affront to their personal values and called for "privacy for all students."
"I believe in equality," said Rich Jacobs of Elgin. "The policy is already in place. It's appropriate. It needs no further action or consideration by this board."
John Koehler of Caledonia said boys and girls might not want to share bathrooms or locker rooms with a member of the opposite sex or "be exposed to nakedness."
School districts across the country are grappling with this issue. Earlier this year, Palatine-Schaumburg Township High School District 211 and the U.S. Department of Education struck an agreement allowing a transgender student limited access to the girls locker room at Fremd High School in Palatine. That agreement is being challenged in federal court by a citizens group.
Ward said she has no plans of pursuing legal action against U-46 on the transgender issue.
"I will continue to do all I can as a board member to bring the concerns of the community to light," said Ward adding, the issue might come up again at Monday's school board meeting.