District 211 board says it needs more time on transgender locker room policy

  • Both supporters of a policy that would allow transgender students to use the locker rooms of their choice, without a previous requirement that they change in privacy stalls, and opponents crowded the District 211 meeting at Palatine High School.

      Both supporters of a policy that would allow transgender students to use the locker rooms of their choice, without a previous requirement that they change in privacy stalls, and opponents crowded the District 211 meeting at Palatine High School. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 school board listens to public comment on transgender students using the locker rooms of their choice.

      The Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 school board listens to public comment on transgender students using the locker rooms of their choice. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The crowd attending the District 211 school board meeting on a policy that would allow transgender students to use the locker rooms of their choice was split about down the middle between supporters and opponents.

      The crowd attending the District 211 school board meeting on a policy that would allow transgender students to use the locker rooms of their choice was split about down the middle between supporters and opponents. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Supporters of transgender students' using the locker rooms of their choice, without a previous requirement that they change in privacy stalls, rally at the school board meeting at Palatine High School.

      Supporters of transgender students' using the locker rooms of their choice, without a previous requirement that they change in privacy stalls, rally at the school board meeting at Palatine High School. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 school board meeting begins with public comment on the district's transgender-student locker room policy.

      The Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 school board meeting begins with public comment on the district's transgender-student locker room policy. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/19/2019 11:22 PM

Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board members Thursday agreed that a proposed policy granting transgender students unrestricted access to locker rooms needed more time and details than would be possible for them to vote on at their next meeting Oct. 17.

Though not all agreed on what would be required for greater public understanding of the policy, the board directed administrators to tweak it in time for a special meeting to be set for a date before the Oct. 17 regular meeting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The board said the earliest it could vote on such a policy is Nov. 14. But it didn't commit to that date, either, in case even more discussion was needed.

Board member Kim Cavill cautioned that no additional detail would be sufficient to keep such a policy from being contentious.

Twenty-five randomly selected speakers weighed in on the potential policy during Thursday's meeting. Sixteen opposed such a policy of unrestricted access while nine spoke in support of it.

Board member Mark Cramer's motion for unlimited time for speakers failed in favor of setting the limit at 25 people.

The proposed policy was announced last week and Superintendent Dan Cates again addressed his reasons for it Thursday.

"The core of the policy was created by the Illinois Association of School Boards, and the policy has been adopted widely across the state of Illinois," he told the audience. "We haven't heard of challenges or controversies associated with unrestricted access in districts across the state."

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While still a senior at Palatine High School, Nova Maday sued the district in November 2017, arguing that its practice of requiring transgender students to use provided privacy stalls while others don't have to is discriminatory.

Maday, who was born male but identifies as female, said she never used the locker room at her school under the conditions it was offered her.

The practice began nearly four years ago as a compromise after another student identified as Student A filed a federal complaint that the district banned transgender students from locker rooms altogether.

While Maday's later state lawsuit would argue District 211's restricted access for transgender students was too little, a group called Students and Parents for Privacy filed a federal lawsuit in May 2016 arguing it was too much.

The federal lawsuit was dropped in April this year, weeks after a judge dismissed portions of it.

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