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Judge refuses families' locker room injunction request
by Matt Simonette
2018-01-03

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A federal judge has refused a request by Palatine families for an injunction that would prohibit a transgender student from utilizing locker room facilities designated for females at her school in Township High School District 211.

The order on the injunction, by Judge Jorge Alonso in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, was issued Dec. 29. He refused the request primarily because the student in question had graduated and federal guidelines impacting the situation had been lifted by the Trump administration.

It is the latest development in an ongoing case that shook the Northwest Suburban community in late 2015, when a transgender student—referred to in court documents and media as "Student A"—sued for the right to use public accommodations designated for female students. The Obama administration intervened, and said the district was skirting Title IX violations that imperiled its federal funding. The district relented, over the objections of several local families, and made accommodations for the student.

The following summer, a group of families sued the district as well as the federal, state and county governments, charging the school violated or could potentially violate their children's privacy. The lawsuit was filed by an ad hoc group, Students and Parents for Privacy, who are largely represented by the anti-LGBT organization Alliance Defending Freedom. The federal defendants were dropped from the case after the Trump administration subsequently lifted federal guidelines protecting transgender students.

"Because the Federal Defendants have been dismissed, Plaintiffs' motion as to the federal rule embodied in the guidance documents is now moot," wrote Alonso. "Likewise, because Student A has graduated and the Locker Room Agreement has been terminated, this aspect of Plaintiffs' claims is also moot."

In a Jan. 2 statement, John Knight, Director of LGBT and HIV Project at the ACLU of Illinois, said, "Judge Alonso recognized the careful application of the law by the magistrate judge in this case, and denied this effort to re-institute segregation of transgender students in District 211.

"Throughout this litigation, one thing remains clear. The groups who filed this case remain unable to demonstrate any harm to their clients resulting from sharing restrooms and locker rooms with students who they perceive as different. … There have been no reported incidents of harm to a student from the presence of a transgender student in a gender-appropriate locker room or restroom anywhere across the country. And furthermore, as Judge Alonso's opinion once [again] confirmed, there is no constitutional right to refuse to share a restroom or locker room with students because they are transgender."

Another transgender student sued the district in late 2017, maintaining that District 211 had similarly prohibited her from using the girls' locker room. That student said District 211 only developed the rules as they applied to Student A, not the entire student body. Alonso noted that development in his decision.

"The fact that other transgender students want or might want to use sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity, however, neither suggests that the injury of which Plaintiffs complained is continuing or that the injury complained of will be repeated," he wrote.

A status hearing on the matter is set for Feb. 8.


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