Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso approved a decision from a federal magistrate judge (issued previously) denying a preliminary injunction to a handful of students and parents residing in suburban high school District 211 seeking to bar students who are transgender from continuing to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender in suburban District 211 high schools. The lawsuit was filed in 2016 after a student identified as Student A was allowed to use the girls’ locker rooms and restrooms at her high school rather than being forced to dress and use the restroom in a separate facility from her fellow students. Student A’s use of the locker room was allowed as part of an agreement between the school district and the United States Department of Education finalized in December 2015.
In May 2016, 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. A federal magistrate judge earlier rejected the plaintiffs’ efforts to seek a temporary injunction, a decision confirmed by Judge Alonso today.
In response to the decision, the following can be attributed to John Knight, Director of LGBT and HIV Project at the ACLU of Illinois:
Judge Alonso recognized the careful application of the law by the magistrate judge in this case, and denied this effort to re-institute segregation of transgender students in District 211.
Throughout this litigation, one thing remains clear. The groups who filed this case remain unable to demonstrate any harm to their clients resulting from sharing restrooms and locker rooms with students who they perceive as different. The plaintiffs’ fear-mongering and persistent refusal to respect the core gender of these students cannot change the simple fact that there is no legal justification for requiring District 211 to separate and stigmatize transgender students because of who they are. There have been no reported incidents of harm to a student from the presence of a transgender student in a gender-appropriate locker room or restroom anywhere across the country. And furthermore, as Judge Alonso’s opinion once against confirmed, there is no constitutional right to refuse to share a restroom or locker room with students because they are transgender.
We look forward to moving ahead to fight this suit and in our recently filed litigation against District 211 for limiting another transgender student’s use of the locker room. We continue to hope that District 211 can push back against the efforts of the plaintiffs in this case and become a model for tolerance and humane treatment for all students, including those who are transgender.