Friday, May 06, 2016

Lawsuit Challenges School's Accommodation of Transgender Rights and DOE's Rules

In the escalating war over transgender rights, a lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Illinois this week by a group of  high school students and their parents challenging an agreement between a Cook County school district and the Department of Education to permit a transgender student in one of the high schools access to girls' locker rooms. The suit also challenges the school district's policy of allowing students to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

The 83-page complaint (full text) in Students and Parents for Privacy v. Department of Education, (ND IL, filed 5/4/2016), says that the school district was threatened with the loss of $6 million in federal funding if it did not agree to the arrangement. It alleges that the locker room agreement and restroom policy cause students to lose their constitutionally protected right of privacy by requiring them to have their partially or fully unclothed bodies exposed to persons of the opposite sex.  The complaint contends that this also violates students' right under Title IX to an education that is free from a hostile environment based on sex, and infringes parents' rights to control the upbringing and education of their children.

The suit also contends that the Department of Education acted contrary to law when it interpreted Title IX's reference to "sex" discrimination as including "gender identity." Chicago Tribune reported on the lawsuit.