Dist. 211 Reaffirms Transgender Locker Room Deal

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 8, 2015 | Go to article overview

Dist. 211 Reaffirms Transgender Locker Room Deal


Byline: Eric Peterson epeterson@dailyherald.com

Dist. 211 reaffirms transgender locker room deal

Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board members Monday quietly reaffirmed an agreement with the federal government over a transgender student's access to a girls locker room after resolving a difference of opinion on its interpretation.

The decision to take no further action on the settlement came after another lengthy closed executive session, which followed another two-hour public-comment session -- this one in front of about 600 people and including much support for the transgender student and the agreement the district and a federal agency reached to accommodate her.

The agreement between the district and the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights allows the student access to a girls locker room with a separate changing area.

"We believe this is the best course of action for this student while balancing the needs of all the teenage students in our district," school board President Mucia Burke said after the board emerged from about the two-hour closed session. "The district will accommodate gender-identified locker room access for this student predicated on agreement to use the privacy measures provided.

"We are installing privacy curtains in our locker rooms, with the assurance that this student will use them," she said.

About three-fourths of the 39 people speaking publicly at the meeting spoke in support of the transgender student or the agreement. The dissenters called for the agreement to be rescinded.

Last Wednesday, a majority of speakers spoke against the agreement as an unnecessary compromise for the district. Monday's speakers were chosen by lottery within a two-hour time limit.

Some who couldn't speak Monday complained that many who did clearly identified themselves as living outside the district. One man was ejected from the meeting after not yielding that point.

The founder of a group of parents against the agreement said after the meeting she was still disappointed with the outcome.

"This proves that some things that are this important should be put before the public as a direct vote because it's clear this board didn't listen to the majority of the community," said Vicki Wilson of District 211 Parents for Privacy.

Earlier Monday, the U.S. Department of Education on Monday changed course again, saying it now concurs with the school district's interpretation of the agreement it made with the Office of Civil Rights, according to a letter the district received Monday from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.

In the letter, Lhamon wrote, "As to the specific questions raised in your email, the agreement provisions specific to locker room access apply only to Student A and the District's agreement to provide Student A access to locker rooms is based on the student's representation that she will change in private changing stations. …

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