An Illinois school district that was one of the first in the country to face a legal challenge from a transgender student seeking access to use the locker room of their choice has implemented a policy that would allow transgender students to have "unrestricted" access to the locker room of their identified gender, after a 5-2 school board vote on Thursday.
The Palatine-Schaumberg High School District 211 in the Chicago Suburbs has been embroiled in a legal battle for four years about their locker room policy for transgender students. The lawsuit was initially filed in 2015 by a student who has as of yet only been identified as "Student A" in legal proceedings, and who sought access to use the school restrooms and locker rooms of their identified gender.
After four years of legal battles, the school district decided to end the lawsuit by capitulating and allowing transgender students to use the locker room of their choice. According to WBBM-TV, the school district's superintendent stated that the new policy would not allow just any student to go into any locker room or rest room at any time, but would instead require transgender students, along with their parents, to "have communication with the district and come up with a plan."
Although the guidance document released with the policy does specifically contemplate that parents will initiate contact with the school district to inform them that they have a transgender student, the policy itself is unambiguous and does not mention parental involvement, stating merely: "Students shall be treated and supported in a manner consistent with their gender identity, which shall include students having access to restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity."
Additionally, it seems highly likely, based on past events, that if the policy truly does require a parent to confirm that their child is transgender, that additional legal troubles are likely to visit the school district when transgender students decide they shouldn't have to have parental permission to use the restroom of their choice.
Not everyone was thrilled with the decision. According to WBBM, at least one student attended the meeting in order to speak to the school board about her concerns, stating: "I do not want to see a transgender student naked in the locker room. I do not want a transgender student to see me naked in the locker room."
A statement released by the Superintendent says that the policy will go into effect in January.
The district sent an email to parents on Friday announcing the policy and acknowledging that there had been significant resistance to its adoption. The email concluded: "Whatever your view on the adoption of this policy, we all share the same goal of supporting the young people in our schools to experience the best possible learning environment and navigate the challenges and opportunities of young adulthood in healthy ways."