Illinois school district moves to allow boys to use girls' locker rooms and showers

After the Trump administration’s Department of Education rolled back the Title IX “guidance letter” regarding bathroom usage in public schools by transgender students last year, I’d foolishly thought we might be done with this issue. (At least until the next Democratic president took office, anyway.) But apparently not.

Out in Illinois, the Palatine-Schaumburg school district, located to the northwest of Chicago, has brought the transgender bathroom wars back into the spotlight. The school board voted this week by a 5-2 margin to allow transgender students to use the locker rooms, showers and other facilities of their chosen gender. The policy is expected to go into effect in January. Up until now, a compromise had allowed transgender “girls” to change in the nurse’s office or a private stall. (CBS Chicago)

A nearly four-year fight over restroom and locker room access for transgender students in the northwest suburbs is over.

As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported, the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board on Thursday voted to give transgender students unrestricted access to locker rooms and restrooms. The vote was 5-2.

It sounds like the board is attempting to walk a bit of a tightrope here. Besides the delay in implementing the new policy, the board is saying that “doesn’t mean anyone can just go into any locker room or restroom at any time.” They specify that the student and a parent will have to communicate with the district’s board and “come up with a plan.”

What does that even mean? I suppose it prevents some boys from just declaring that they’re “transitioning” without their parent’s knowledge and just strolling into the girls’ showers, but what if the parents are going along with this? That’s not much of a remedy, given the number of parents these days that are condoning (if not inspiring) such behavior.

As I’ve written here repeatedly, the ideal (if unfortunate) solution is to just make all of the bathrooms, changing rooms and shower stalls into private, single-person facilities with no gender assignments. But that’s expensive and takes up more space, so few schools could afford to quickly make such a transition. It seems like the compromise that had been worked out for schools in the Palatine-Schaumburg school district was fair enough, since privacy was assured for the students.

And maybe it’s just me, but has anyone else noticed that nearly every one of these cases that makes it into the news involves boys “transitioning” to being girls who want to use the girls’ facilities? Where are all of the transgender boys wanting to shower with the biological (actual) boys? Just saying

We have a couple of Supreme Court cases currently on the docket where some questions about the definitions of gender and sex might be addressed. Unfortunately, they seem to be fairly narrowly tailored and I’ll be surprised if we get any of the more sweeping answers that are required for these questions. Until then, we’ll likely be seeing more of these situations winding up in the lower courts and leaving parents and students in limbo until the court can be prodded into offering a definitive answer.