Trans girl’s use of a girls’ locker room sparks huge backlash and a federal lawsuit
The decision to let a trans girl use the girls’ locker room at her school in Chicago has ignited a federal lawsuit and a district-wide battle over access.
Parents for Privacy, a group representing more than 50 families of secondary school children, is suing High School District 211 in federal court over the move.
The district board agreed to let a trans girl – known only as Student A – use the locker room of her choosing after pressure from federal officials.
But the move started a backlash that has resulted in the lawsuit and today’s board election, in which three candidates from Parents for Privacy are running in order to roll back trans rights.
The activists have been supported financially by Richard Uihlein, a business and long-time Republican donor who has given millions to conservative causes and candidates including Ted Cruz.
Anna Klimkowicz, who has been a board member since 1997, told the Chicago Times that the district’s policy has worked seamlessly, with no violations or bullying that she had heard of.
“It has to be reviewed, but right now restricted access is working,” she said.
The district changed its rules to accommodate Student A after the department of education under Obama ruled that it was discriminating because of her sex.
This was the first time federal officials had come to this conclusion against a school district, and led to the board providing access after the government threatened to withhold millions in funding.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has supported Student A in her legal battle against the Parents for Privacy.
It said that if three of the parents who support that lawsuit win seats on the school board in today’s election, they will probably have enough votes to change the district’s policy.
As for Student A herself, the girl at the forefront of the controversy said trans access to toilets and locker rooms was utterly unimportant to other pupils.
“Honestly, (students) are sick of this issue. They think it’s quite ridiculous.”
However, the student, who is graduating in June, worried that, depending on the outcome of today’s board election, “other students could have to go through what I went through (before the agreement) or even worse.”
And she’s not the only one who will be affected by today’s election.
Two other students have intervened in the federal lawsuit to try to stop any rollback of the access provided to Student A.
Another student at a different school is also fighting for access to the girls’ locker room, which has thus far been denied to her.
Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for ACLU Illinois, said while the organisation doesn’t get involved in district board elections, it is “very much concerned” with the situation in the district.
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“If these policies get reversed, I can tell you who is going to be harmed: Our clients.”
Fights over trans youth’s access to locker rooms and toilets are going on all over the country, exacerbated by Trump’s decision to reverse Obama’s transgender bathroom protections.
In Wisconsin, teenager Ash Whitaker is set to take on his school district in a federal appeals court.
He alleged he was discriminated against by the district’s bathroom policy, which he said required trans students to use the wrong bathroom and to identify themselves with green bracelets.