October 18, 2016 2:36 pm

Decision denying preliminary injunction in District 211/Transgender Student Case

Earlier today, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert issued his report and recommendation recommending denial of a preliminary injunction to students and parents seeking to deny a transgender female student and other transgender students the ability to continue using the restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. Assuming that District Judge Alonzo agrees with the magistrate’s recommendations, the decision means that Student A will still be allowed to use the locker room consistent with her gender identity at her high school in suburban Chicago District 211 rather than being forced to dress and use the restroom in a separate facility from her fellow students. Student A, a young woman who is transgender, has used the girls’ locker room since the District reached an agreement with the United States Department of Education in December 2015 and has used the girls’ restrooms since the fall of 2013.

In May, a group of parents and students calling themselves Students and Parents for Privacy (“SPP”) filed a lawsuit with the help of two anti-LGBT legal organizations to challenge the agreement, as well as District 211’s practice of allowing Student A and other transgender students to use gender-appropriate restrooms. Judge Gilbert recommends denial of SPP’s request for a preliminary injunction, which would have blocked the use of locker rooms and bathrooms for these students.

The following can be attributed to John Knight of the ACLU of Illinois:

John Knight, Director, LGBT and HIV Project

John Knight, Director,
LGBT and HIV Project

Judge Gilbert’s decision is welcome news, reducing some of the uncertainty experienced by our clients in this case. The Judge plainly recognized that the organizations who filed this case are unable to demonstrate any harm to their clients from sharing restrooms and locker rooms with students they perceive as different, while Student A and other transgender students would have been isolated and stigmatized if they were forced out of the appropriate restrooms and locker rooms after using the facilities without incident for several years. As the decision makes clear, “[h]igh school students do not have a constitutional right not to share restrooms or locker rooms with transgender students” and “sharing a restroom or locker room with a transgender student does not create … a hostile environment under Title IX.”

Barring Student A and other transgender students  from the  restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender challenges their basic identity and humanity, suggests that they should be ashamed of who they are, and puts them at serious risk of long-term emotional and psychological injury. We are pleased that Judge Gilbert rejected specious arguments about privacy and protected the interests of all the students.  

We look forward to moving ahead to fight this suit, so that District 211 can work towards becoming a model for tolerance and humane treatment for all students, including Student A and others who are transgender. 

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