A federal magistrate judge issued a recommendation on Tuesday to deny a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs challenging a suburban Illinois school district's locker room policy for transgender students.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert issued his recommendation in a report to U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso, who is presiding over the case.
Parents who brought the lawsuit are seeking to stop Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211's policy allowing a transgender student to use a gender-appropriate locker room, with the requirement that she use private changing stations inside the facility.
The policy was produced through an agreement reached in December between the school district and U.S. Education Department.
Parents opposing the policy argue that the Education Department is misinterpreting the Title IX sex discrimination clause by allowing for gender identity to be considered in its enforcement. The parents, who are supported by the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Thomas More Society, want the student's locker room access blocked until the case is decided in court.
In his report advising against a preliminary injunction, Gilbert said the policy "offers all students reasonable accommodations to ensure their privacy is protected," adding that "any cisgender high school student who does not want to use a restroom or a locker room with a transgender student is not required to do so."
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb issued a response to the judge's recommendation.
"School policies should protect the privacy and safety of all students, no matter who they are. Young students should be not be forced into an intimate setting like a locker room with someone of the opposite sex," McCaleb said in a statement. "The court should exercise its authority to stop the DOE and DOJ from redefining federal law and violating the privacy of thousands of students. We are hopeful that the federal courts will ultimately decide in favor of the privacy rights of all students."
The ACLU of Illinois, which represents the transgender student, and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance intervened in the case.
John Knight of the ACLU of Illinois released the following statement Tuesday:
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 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.