District 211 Announces Proposed Policy that Could Incorporate Equal Access to Restrooms and Locker Rooms for Students with Gender Identity Claims Under EEOA

DISTRICT 211 MEETING ON CONTROVERSIAL PROPOSAL TONIGHT

On Thursday morning September 19, 2019, Township High School District 211 on their official website (adc.d211.org) announced details for the proposal of a new policy that states that “(S)tudents shall be treated and supported in a manner consistent with their gender identity, which shall include students having access to restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.” The policy apparently is an attempt to place “gender identity” alongside color, race, nationality, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ancestry, age and other categories as protected under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974. People that oppose the proposed policy say that a majority of parents and students in District 211 oppose the proposed policy because it would be applied at the cost of loss of privacy for students.

According to Superintendent Daniel Cates, the policy will be discussed at the District 211 Board of Education meeting on Thursday evening, September 19, 2019 at Palatine High School, 1111 North Rohlwing Road in Palatine. According to Cates, the Board will conduct its first review of a potential policy that would grant transgender students unrestricted access to the locker room of the student’s gender identity, in partnership with the student’s parent and support team.

The Board will meet in closed session at 6:30 p.m. and will hear comments from citizens beginning at 7:30 p.m. According to Cates, the following parameters or guidelines apply at the meeting …

Anyone wishing to sign-in to address the Board of Education may do so between 6:45 p.m. and 7:25 p.m. on a designated sign-in sheet located at the entry to the student cafeteria.

Citizen appearances will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Public comment will follow a random selection process for identifying individuals who will address the Board and the process will continue until the 60 minute mark is reached.

Each person will have a maximum of 3 minutes to address the Board of Education.

Public comments regarding any matter other than the budget will be heard for a total length of time up to 60 minutes.

Any individual’s unused time or place in order may not be deferred to another individual.

It is important to note that this is a public Board meeting and not a dialogue, so Board members will not answer questions or respond to comments.

Cates asked citizens to please honor the procedures and decorum of the Board meeting and be respectful of anyone speaking so that they can be heard.

PROPOSED POLICY INTRODUCED (Thursday morning September 19, 2019)

EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNTIES (sic)
Equal educational and extracurricular opportunities shall be available for all students without regard to color, race, nationality, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, gender identity, status of being homeless, immigration status, order of protection status, actual or potential marital or parental status, including pregnancy. Any student may file a discrimination grievance by using Board policy GAC/JA/KAA, Uniform Grievance Procedure.

No student shall, based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity be denied equal access to programs, activities, services, or benefits or be limited in the exercise of any right, privilege, advantage, or denied equal access to educational and extracurricular programs and activities. Students shall be treated and supported in a manner consistent with their gender identity, which shall include students having access to restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

The Superintendent shall appoint a Nondiscrimination Coordinator.

— Superintendent Dan Cates

Leading up to the introduction of the proposal for the new policy, Superintendent Daniel Cates submitted the following letter to residents served by Township District 211 on September 12, 2019.

Letter from Dan Cates Sept. 12, 2019

District 211 Proposes Transgender Access Policy, Pending Board of Education Approval A Message from Superintendent Daniel Cates

At the upcoming District 211 Board of Education meeting on Thursday, September 19 at Palatine High School, the Board will conduct its first review of a potential policy that would grant transgender students unrestricted access to the locker room of the student’s gender identity, in partnership with the student’s parent and support team.

Four years ago, District 211 faced a complaint that our supports to transgender students were discriminatory. The complaint sought unrestricted access to locker rooms by transgender students. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) determined that the District had violated its guidelines and sought to compel the District’s compliance or, otherwise, face a potential violation and risk the loss of federal funds.

There was no definitive legal guidance in place at the time to help schools on matters like this. District 211 felt the local school board should make this important decision. For months, participation at our Board meetings included passionate voices from all perspectives, including two meetings attended by hundreds of people that included hours of public comments.

Our Board of Education adopted a compromise practice of granting access to the locker room of a student’s gender identity upon the student’s agreement to change clothes in a private area. The private changing areas would also be available to all students as desired. The OCR approved this practice, and the District has successfully implemented it for numerous students over the past four years.

Throughout this time, we have been in the unique position of facing complaints and lawsuits from both sides of the issue – those who want full, unrestricted access to the locker rooms and those who feel that adolescents with different anatomy should not share the same locker room. Our school district’s approach has prevailed in federal and state court in the face of challenges from both sides.

And in those four years, understanding and acceptance of transgender identity have advanced – societally and in our immediate communities – for the better. In our district and countless others, students, families and staff honor, respect and celebrate all manifestations of unique differences characteristic of the human condition.

Our proposed District policy reflects these advancements. The policy, which still requires approval from the Board of Education, will be posted Tuesday in advance of our Board meeting next week, and would provide transgender students unrestricted access to the locker room of the student’s gender identity. (In District 211, policies must be reviewed at two Board meetings; a new or revised policy may be adopted at the second meeting).

District 211 has a longstanding legacy of providing compassionate, fair and equitable support for all students. As always, we are committed to ensuring that our schools provide a welcoming and inclusive learning environment that celebrates our unique differences and respects all people.

Protests and demonstrations are possible from opposing sides of this issue. The Illinois Family Institute (IFI) recently distributed robocall messages about the proposal, recommended citizen attendance, and recommended citizens express concerns regarding opposition to the proposed policy.

Opponents of the proposed policy, expressing views on a Facebook page named D211 Parents for Privacy, are advocating privacy and dignity of all students; and are encouraging large community participation Thursday evening by speaking at the open session, expressing opposition to the proposed policy by carrying signs, and by expressing opposition while wearing red (D211 Board Meeting on Radical New Policy Public · Facebook Event Hosted by D211 Parents for Privacy).

Initially no organized pro-policy protests or demonstration details were discovered by online research of social media and Internet resources; however, the Illinois Family Institute warned that conservatives may be outnumbered by supporters of the proposed policy with support of “outside organizations.

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