Think back to the good ol’ days of changing in a locker room during high school, where after P.E. you had just a few short minutes to change out of your sweaty clothes and race to your next class. The transition was typically quick and casual; everyone of the same gender, of course, all felt comfortable changing in the same room.
However, times are changing.
Just recently, the Township High School District 211 in Illinois violated anti-discrimination laws set out by Title IX when they did not allow a transgender student to change normally in the locker room with the other girls, according to federal education authorities. The student, who identifies as a female, also plays on one of the women’s sports teams.
The restrictions by the school district consisted of the transgender student changing behind a privacy curtain in the girls’ locker room. The student is allowed by the school district to play on a women’s sports team, use women’s restrooms and is referred to in the school as a female.
When privacy concerns in the locker rooms arose, she was told to change and shower behind a curtain because she still had the parts of a male.
With all the gray area surrounding transgender controversies, the Township High School District 211 proposed the best possible plan under the circumstances. Regardless if the decision was right or wrong, it was not inherently malicious or discriminatory.
The reason for the Title IX violation is the school mandated that the student must use the privacy curtain rather than leaving the decision up to her. Because of this plan enforced by the school district in an attempt to protect all students, the U.S. Department of Education gave them 30 days to solve the problem or face penalties, which could include lawsuits, federal court action or potentially losing some of their Title IX funding.
A school with so many students must think about the bigger picture, more than just what will benefit one student. In this case, the school had privacy concerns of a transgender student with male body parts changing right next to other female students. This seems like a reasonable concern.
After all, isn’t that the point of having locker rooms separated by gender in the first place? Locker rooms were designed with privacy in mind so women and men change separately. It’s not about discrimination; it’s simply a difference in external organs.
The school in this situation was not saying the transgender student could not participate in women’s sporting events or that she was not allowed to change in the same locker room as her teammates; she did have those opportunities. She was simply required to change with a privacy curtain in an effort to protect hers and the other students’ privacies. The entities that disagreed with the school’s action failed to see this.
While the equality of transgender individuals is something society is slowly moving toward, the school did the best it could given the options it had. Not every imperfect solution is based on discrimination.
In this case, the solution was simply based on protection for all students in order to cultivate a comfortable environment for the majority.