Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Transgender Student at Center of Illinois School Locker Room Debate Speaks Out

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A two-year fight over the request by a transgender high school student  in Palatine, Ill., to use the girls’ locker room is finally over, reports the Chicago Tribune. Despite lingering opposition that drew hundreds to a loud and angry public meeting this week, officals at Township High School District 211 opted to keep a deal with federal authorities rather than walk away and start over. 

"I never wanted to this to be a public issue," the unidentified student said in a statement released by her lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. "I really want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this process. My parents have been great. Other students have been so supportive."

But school officials nearly tossed the settlement aside after a rancorous exchange with ACLU and federal officials who touted the deal as applying district-wide. The board insisted the arrangement — to grant access to the girls’ locker room to the trans girl provided she uses new privacy curtains at all times  — applied only to her. 

Members of the board accused federal officials of acting "in bad faith,” according to the Tribune. So they called for one more public meeting Monday night, and the members threatened to rescind the settlement until they received what the newspaper called a “clarification” from federal officials.

Both sides finally agreed that the locker room provisions apply only to the student who filed the complaint, although as part of the agreement, any student seeking additional privacy can use the curtained-off area.

The Monday meeting saw two hours of boisterous public comment, with parents denouncing the feds for overstepping and some making transphobic remarks that the student cannot be considered a girl. The Tribune reported the crowd of about 600 people cheered when one man stated this opinion: "It seems the rights of this one person are trumping the rights of everyone else." There were also some who showed support for the girl, like those pictured above.

All that then led to two more hours of closed-door debate before the board chose to uphold the agreement and put the matter to rest.  

Two other sticking points were that the settlement does not explicitly state a requirement that the transgender student use the new privacy curtains. It says that access is "based on Student A's representation that she will change in private changing stations in the girls' locker rooms." 

The other was federal officials' unprecedented finding last month that the district had violated Title IX, the federal law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex. District administrators said that as a term of the settlement, they admitted no wrongdoing.

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