At the risk of being called “bigots,” a group of high school girls explain why they don’t want a transgender girl inside their locker room.
Speaking out, they knew, could make them the public face of a very private issue.
It could lead their classmates to call them “bigots,” “insensitive,” and “homophobes.”
But after seeing their high school back down to threats that the U.S. Department of Education would strip away federal funding, and watching school officials overrule their parents, a group of six high school girls in Cook County, Ill., decided to speak out.
On Dec. 7, before a crowded school board meeting packed with news media, they would tell the world why they don’t want a high school student who was born male, but identifies as a female, to use the girls’ locker room.
They would tell the world why allowing a transgender student to see them in a state of undress would be an invasion of their personal privacy.
They would explain why, at 15 and 16 years old, changing alongside biological women is already hard enough.
“It is unfair to infringe upon the rights of others to accommodate one person,” the six girls, in a joint statement, told an audience of at least 500.
“Although we will never fully understand your personal struggle,” they said, addressing the transgender student, “please understand that we, too, all are experiencing personal struggles that need to be respected.”
Palatine, a well-off suburb of Chicago, is the first district in the country to be found in violation of civil rights laws on transgender issues.
By forcing the transgender student—known in the media as “Student A”—to use a separate locker room, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights ruled that Township High School District 211 had discriminated against the student “on the basis of sex.”
The finding came as the result of a lengthy investigation, triggered by a lawsuit filed by Student A’s parents.
To resolve the findings—and to avoid the Department of Education’s threats of losing federal funding—the school board changed its policies to allow Student A into the girls’ locker rooms, so long as the student changed behind newly installed “privacy curtains.”
Those curtains, the six girls said, shield Student A from personal insecurities, but they leave the rest of them uncomfortably exposed.
‘Still Anatomically a Male’
According to the Department of Education’s investigation, Student A began transitioning to a female in middle school.
The student was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and currently receives an “ongoing course” of hormone therapy.