My previous post, Township High School District 211- Bad Form shares the highlights of this ongoing issue. I tried to keep my own personal opinion and feelings out of it, but I wanted to share my thoughts* here.
The bottom line is that this district acknowledges this student as being female in their records and in some of their actions. She has had unrestricted access to female restrooms and is able to participate in girls’ sports. She was not allowed access to the girls’ locker room and that’s where the violation to Title IX comes into play.
The district’s school board voted to accept a settlement but when the Office of Civil Rights for the US Department of Education issued a press release outlining the details, the district claimed they were inaccurate and demanded a retraction. Since the links included both on the district’s website and the OCR’s press release lead to the same agreement, it appears that someone didn’t read the fine print.
The district insists that this agreement only applies to that one student and that she is being required to use a curtained off area to change- not that she has the option.
The district was found to be violating this student’s Title IX rights. If this settlement only applies to this student, then the next one to come along, if treated any differently than what the settlement stipulates, automatically puts the district back in violation AGAIN. If we give the district the benefit of the doubt….. and we say, that isn’t the case….that the district will treat ALL students the same way and any other transgender student will be afforded the same use of restrooms and locker rooms, then WHY doesn’t this settlement apply to ALL students?
Something is off. Something feels very wrong about this. It stinks of the district running scared in the face of a community responding negatively at the outcome.
I’ve read the comments following the articles tangled with more than one person, only to walk away from the conversation in frustration. I’m sure the district is hearing threats of lawsuits and protests from scared parents who don’t understand. And in all of my years dealing with administrators, I can tell you one thing- they don’t like the idea of angry parents storming the district…..and after having faced a month of the mob mentality, I’m sure they really don’t want this to continue.
It was the district’s responsibility to educate their community on a topic that many are ignorant and it looks like they failed. This was an opportunity to educate people, help grow understanding, teach compassion and acceptance….the list is endless. Instead they chose to go on the defensive and make it clear that they are accommodating this one student because they will loser federal funding if they don’t.
On a completely different note, I am in awe of this community and I’m PROUD to be a part of it. Since the settlement was handed down, members of a Facebook group (Illinois Parents of Transgender & Gender Diverse Children) connected with the parent of the transgender girl. When informed of the district’s actions, this group, with leadership and guidance from the parent, sprung into action. A call for help is spreading across the internet, signs are being made, talking points are being shared, and people are supporting by showing up/ speaking at tomorrow’s board meeting or writing the district directly, sharing their feelings.
I’m not doing this for only one kid- I’m doing it for all of our kids. They all deserve to have the same school experience as everyone else. I will be there showing my support. I hope that you will be, too!
*My own personal take on what is happening is drawn from years of a variety of education experience and from being the parent of a transgender child, and how the uneducated public respond to anything transgender.