Illinois Humans Rights Commission rules for trans student on full, equal restroom access

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Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection. Made available to media outlets via Creative Commons. No derivatives, no commercial use. See guidelines here: broadlygenderphotos.vice.com/guidelines

Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection.

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Human Rights Commission has ruled for a transgender student, allowing trans students full access to restrooms and locker rooms.

The ACLU of Illinois announced the ruling on Wednesday, July 24.

According to the ACLU’s announcement, the commission ruled that Illinois law requires public schools to provide transgender students with full and equal use of restrooms and locker rooms. The decision came in a case brought by a high school student against the Lake Park Community District 108 in suburban Roselle.

The student has not been named to protect his privacy.

The student filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) after being denied use of the locker room unless he agreed to dress separately from other students behind a privacy curtain. The ACLU of Illinois LGBTQ & HIV Project represented him in filing the complaint, and has offered similar assistance to several other students challenging similar forms of discrimination in recent years. The IDHR dismissed the charge, but on appeal the commission reversed, finding that “the District’s sole motivation in mandating that the [student] use a privacy curtain to change clothes while using the boys’ locker room was rooted in the [student’s] gender-related identity, transgender male” and that such a “mandatory limitation requiring privacy curtain usage” amounted to a denial of full and equal use of the District’s facility” in violation of the Human Rights Act.

“This is such a wonderful victory for the students who have fought for the respect and fairness they deserve. The Illinois Human Rights Commission has made it clear that the state law requirement that transgender students be accorded full and equal use of all school facilities extends to restrooms and locker rooms and that school policies of the sort put in place in this district violate state law,” said John Knight of the ACLU in announcing the decision. “Our public schools should be a place where all students can learn and thrive, but that is only possible when every student is able to live authentically rather than being singled out and separated from their peers because they are transgender.”

Knight said the decision confirms that giving trans students full and equal access to facilities is state law.

The ACLU also noted the ruling underscores the need for public schools in Illinois to adopt inclusive policies for their students, including their students who are transgender.

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