A federal judge ruled that a transgender child was discriminated against when a Chicago-area school district refused the biologically male teenager from having full access to the girl's locker room. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the claim against the school district on behalf of the unnamed teenager. The U.S. judge ordered the school district to provide the teenager with full access to the women's locker room at the teen's high school, or the district would lose its federal funding.
The ACLU applauded the ruling. Meanwhile, the school district described it as a "serious overreach."
School District's Policy Stigmatized the Child, Judge Said
According to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, Township High School District 211 committed a violation of U.S. non-discrimination law. The high school had permitted the transgender student to use the women's locker room, so long as the student showered and changed privately. However, the court deemed that having a separate changing space subjected the transgender student to different treatment and stigma and was thereby discriminatory.
The transgender student affected by the ruling said in an official statement, "This decision makes me extremely happy -– because of what it means for me, personally, and for countless others ... The district's policy stigmatized me, often making me feel like I was not a 'normal person.'"
The biologically male but psychologically female student plays on women's sports teams, uses women's restrooms and has identified as a girl at the high school for years.
An Important Civil Rights Issue
According to Catherine Lhamon, who serves as the Assistant U.S. Secretary for Civil Rights, the high school's actions were unlawful. Lhamon said in an official statement, "All students deserve the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities –- this is a basic civil right."
The school district, on the other hand, said that their solution of providing locker room access, on the condition of transgender children showering and changing separately, is a reasonable one that honors the dignity of all students. The school district said that this issue is a critical civil rights matter for educational institutions throughout the nation.
Who do you feel is right in this case, the judge or the school district? Please post your comments below!
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