President Obama’s school-bathroom policy is under fire in an Illinois case that has 51 families seeking injunctive relief from having their daughters forced to share locker rooms and other facilities with boys.
A suburban Chicago school district that opened its girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms to boys without even notifying parents in order to appease the Obama administration and keep its federal funding faces a federal lawsuit that has nationwide implications.
Initial oral arguments in the case were heard Monday on the issue of whether to grant a temporary injunction stopping the Obama-instigated policy from going into effect while the case winds through the court system.
Schools in the Township High School District 211 opened for class on Monday, forcing the need for an injunction to stop the new bathroom policy.
The case is a civil rights action to stop the U.S. Department of Education and District 211 “from continuing to trample students’ privacy rights and other constitutional and statutory rights by forcing 14- to 17-year-old girls to use locker rooms and restrooms with biological males,” states a release from the Thomas More Society, which is providing free legal counsel to the 51 families and their 136 students.
The suit seeks to set aside Obama’s unilateral rule redefining “sex” in the federal “Title IX” regulations to include the subjective “gender identity” as decided by each student. Obama’s Department of Education issued the new rules in May in a “guidance” letter that redefined the word “gender” for the purposes of federal funding of public schools.
School districts that fail to comply will risk losing their federal funding.
Within a few days 11 states, led by Texas, sued the Obama administration over the new directive. That suit has since been joined by more than 20 states.
The trend is sweeping the world. The Girls Schools’ Association issued an edict in the United Kingdom recently forbidding schools from addressing girls as “girls” because it might cause offense to some students.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina directed its teachers to no longer address students as “boys and girls” as that might upset those who self-identify as the opposite of their biological sex. To help train teachers in the new way of thinking about gender, the district has employed a purple cartoon character called the “Gender Unicorn,” to appear on multiple training materials for faculty and staff in order to change the way students think about their gender identity. The graphic features three expressions of gender identity and expression, with “other” being added to male and female.
Evangelist Franklin Graham blasted the North Carolina policy as “brainwashing,” WND reported.
LGBT students in the Illinois case are being represented by the ACLU.
“You’re talking about huge precedent implications because this issue is so new,” said Thomas More’s Joycelyn Floyd, who argued on behalf of the parents. “The question is, what does someone’s sex mean? It, we feel, is a pretty straight forward question with answers that are pretty clear throughout the animal kingdom.”
Title IX was meant to prevent discrimination based on sex involving academics, sports and other extra-curricular programs, because it was established that girls were not getting the same access to these opportunities.
“The law demanding equal opportunities had an exception that you could segregate on the basis of sex so long as the facilities were equivalent in these private, more intimate areas, things like restrooms, hotel rooms, locker rooms, where male-female differences do matter, and that was OK to segregate, until now,” Floyd said. “Now you can go to whatever facility that corresponds to who you self-perceive that you are, and that turns the whole Title IX rule on its head.”
To the Obama administration and the ACLU, gender identification is subjective, depending on what the student tells the school they self-identify as, and that choice does not need to be verifiable by science or biology. Nor does the student need to be undergoing any type of chemical or surgical treatment to qualify as “transgender.”
Even the activists who agitate in this area are changing their language and their ideas about gender identity. It’s a moving target, Floyd said.
“The activists are now claiming there’s a spectrum, and a person can be in a place where they are neither male nor female, you are in between,” she said. “Then others talking about gender fluidity, where it changes by the day. And the thing is because it is based, because the DOE has said you can’t demand any medical proof, the intent of the department and the Obama administration is all you need is the student’s word, well if the student comes in and says I’m gender fluid, because we’re talking about high school, students you are going to have children abusing that.
The preliminary injunction hearing in Illinois case took place Monday at the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse in Chicago.
Oral arguments lasted more than four hours when they were scheduled for only two hours.
“But the judge asked various questions and he let everybody go over their allotted time to make sure all the points were adequately addressed,” said Floyd.
“He is very aware that school started today but he also wants to give all sides and all points adequate consideration,” she said. “Obviously we’re hopeful but he had hard questions for both sides so we’re not quite sure where he’s going to land on the issue.”
One of the central issues is privacy as a constitutional right, which usually comes into play with the Fourth Amendment with regard to the government violating someone’s privacy in a search or seizure.
In a school that could involve searching a student for drugs.
“But all the cases acknowledge there is a bodily right to your dignity and one of the issues is if the person doing the search is the opposite sex it’s always considered an improper search,” Floyd said. “You have this exposure to the opposite sex that presents an automatic bar to the search, so why are we now going to mix boys and girls in the same locker rooms? This is a very new and novel situation to be mixing boys and girls like this.”
The case was filed earlier this year in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois because the Palatine high school district opened its schools’ restrooms to the opposite sex – without informing parents – after threats of funding loss by the U.S. Department of Education.
This was in direct violation of the Title IX regulation that specifies a school receiving federal funds can “provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex” without putting that funding at risk, according to a statement by Thomas More Society.
This school district adopted a practice of allowing any student who identifies as transgender to use the bathroom of their choice.
“So the risk of a girl seeing a biological boy walk into the same facility affects every restroom,” Floyd said. “But for the locker rooms they’ve limited it to one student. So because only one student asked with regard to entering the locker rooms they said they were going to determine their locker room policy on a case by case basis, however we can determine with a high degree of certainty that it will involve more students now that one precedent has been set from DOE.
“Until or unless the court says the department is wrong we can predict that the district will be giving full access to anyone who asks for it because they know if they don’t they will face the loss of their federal funding. And in this district it’s $6 million and all or nearly all goes to special-needs students and low-income students.
“The district has made it clear, even though it hasn’t stated a policy on locker rooms we know what they will do.”
The school district in question has five high schools.
And school districts across the country are being forced to deal with this issue, one way or another, Floyd said.
Alliance Defending Freedom, another nonprofit, is representing students in Ohio.
“But what happens today will only affect this school district in terms of the preliminary injunction, but if it goes to the end and we win, it would prevent them from applying that rule to any school district under Title IX,” Floyd said. “It will have implications around the country because it will either validate the DOE’s rule or it will get rid of it.”