CHICAGO (AP) — A federal magistrate recommended Tuesday that a district judge deny a group of parents' request for an injunction to bar a suburban Chicago transgender high school student from the school's restrooms and locker rooms.
It now goes to U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso, who is presiding over a lawsuit filed by the conservative group Students and Parents for Privacy on behalf of parents whose children attend Palatine-based Township High School District 211.
If Alonso agrees with Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert's recommendation, the transgender student will continue to use a bathroom and locker room for the gender she identifies with rather than being forced to use a facility separate from fellow students.
The transgender student told the Education Department in November that she was denied access to facilities for the gender she identifies with. In response, federal authorities found the school district in violation of Title IX, which bans discrimination based on gender.
A month later, the district allowed the student access to restrooms and locker rooms to settle the complaint, meaning the district to kept millions in federal funding and wasn't open to possible legal action by the federal government.
Gilbert's recommendation shows that there's no harm in students sharing restrooms and locker rooms with students they perceive as different, according to John Knight of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which is representing the transgender student.
"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," Knight said in a statement.
Attorney Gary McCaleb of Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom, which is assisting the parents group, says the group is hopeful the federal court will ultimately decide in favor of the privacy rights of students.
"Young students should 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 Department of Education and the Department of Justice from redefining federal law and violating the privacy of thousands of students."
The sides have two weeks to file any objections to the magistrate's recommendation and the district judge could factor them in his final ruling. No date has been set for a hearing.