Palatine Township High School District 211 and the U.S. Education Department reached an agreement Thursday to provide a transgender student with access to a gender-appropriate locker room.
Under the agreement, the district will provide the student, who identifies as female, with "access to the girls' locker rooms at her high school based on the student's request to change in private changing stations in the girls' locker rooms" and make available other locker room privacy options for all students, according to the Education Department.
Last month, the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights determined that the district had violated Title IX by denying the student access to a gender-appropriate locker room and instead providing her with her own changing room in a separate facility.
"We are grateful that the board and superintendent chose to come into full compliance with our nation's civil rights laws," said Catherine E. Lhamon, the Education Department's assistant secretary for civil rights. "And we look forward to partnering with the district to assure that the terms of this agreement are fully and effectively implemented."
Township High School District 211 Superintendent Daniel Cates said the "agreement protects student privacy and will best serve our total school community."
"From the outset," he added, "our public statements have consistently conveyed the District's position that unrestricted access by transgender students in our open locker rooms is unacceptable, because gender is not the same as anatomy. We have been clear in our public statements that access to gender identified locker rooms must safeguard and protect student privacy whenever students are changing clothes or showering."
Under the settlement, the student may choose to use a privacy curtain, but she is not required to do so, according to the ACLU of Illinois, which represents the student.
"On behalf of our client and her family, we are pleased that the Department of Education has affirmed that District 211 must provide a safe and respectful environment for all students, including those who are transgender," said John Knight, director of the LGBT & HIV Project at the ACLU of Illinois. "Although we are disappointed in the district's efforts to misrepresent the nature of the agreement, we encourage its leadership to seize this moment, and to help residents and students in District 211 to learn about the discrimination and harassment facing transgender men and women and encourage fairness and tolerance for all persons, including those who are transgender."