By Laurie Higgins
In 2014, a body-rejecting male student in District 211, the largest high school district in Illinois, filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to force the district to treat him in all contexts as if he were objectively female. The OCR—an intrusive, dictatorial, de facto bastion of “LGBTQ” activism—then ordered the district to allow this boy full, unrestricted access to the girls’ locker room “for changing during physical education classes and after-school activities,” threatening loss of federal funds for non-compliance. The district rightly refused to comply.
Superintendent Daniel Cates, other school officials, and school board members agreed to a compromise solution that requires the gender-dysphoric student to change in a private, curtained area within the locker room, a solution that the both the OCR and ACLU, who represents the boy, find “inadequate and discriminatory.”
Prior to the agreement, the school had already made inappropriate concessions to the chuckleheaded notions of “progressive” ideologues about the meaning of physical embodiment. On school forms, gender-dysphoric students may identify themselves as the sex they wish they were. They may play on opposite-sex sports teams. And even more outrageous, they may use opposite-sex restrooms since “there are private stalls available.” This boy—and he is and always will be male—was demanding to be allowed unrestricted freedom to change clothes and shower with girls if he so chose. The body-rejecting boy, his parents, the OCR, the ACLU and “trans-activists” seek the eradication of every cultural signifier that affirms that objective biological sex is immutable and profoundly meaningful, and they will use the implacable force of the federal government to achieve that end.
John Knight of the ACLU Illinois’ LGBT program claimed that in refusing to allow a boy unfettered access to the girls’ locker room, District 211 was “knowingly breaking the law.” Well, the purported lawfulness of the OCR’s order is in question.
In 2014, the OCR unilaterally reinterpreted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—federal civil rights legislation that addressed sexual discrimination, not gender dysphoria—and then commanded that all school districts comply with their fanciful reinterpretation. Here is an excerpt from their imperious proclamation to schools:
The Department’s Title IX regulations permit schools to provide sex-segregated restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, housing, athletic teams, and single-sex classes under certain circumstances. When a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex in those situations, a school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.
The OCR imposed their radical reinterpretation on schools without the actual law ever changing. A court case (G. G. v. Gloucester County Public Schools) is currently pending in which the Department of Justice is attempting to change the law in accordance with the OCR’s desires, but as of now, there exists no federal or state law that requires Illinois schools to allow students of one sex to use restrooms or locker rooms designated for opposite-sex students.
Title IX actually states this:
[Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972…is designed to eliminate (with certain exceptions) discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program….A recipient [of federal funds] may provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex, but such facilities provided for students of one sex shall be comparable to such facilities provided for students of the other sex.
Many community members who do not like either the accommodation sought by this student or the existing practices regarding sports participation and restroom use may dismiss them as unimportant since there are so few gender-dysphoric students. But if it’s unimportant, why does the Left care so much about them? They care about them because such policies and practices tacitly teach Leftist assumptions to students as incontrovertible truths.
Here are some of the ideas that “transgender” restroom/locker room practices and policies teach all students:
- They teach that the subjective feelings of teens who wish they had been born the opposite sex trump objective biological and anatomical reality.
- They teach students that cross-dressing (as well as hormone-doping and elective amputations of healthy body parts) is morally acceptable and good.
- They teach that body-rejecting students’ desire to be the opposite sex confers to them a right to use restrooms and locker rooms designated for the opposite sex when in reality boys have no right to use girls’ restrooms, and girls have no right to use boys’ restrooms.
- Policies that allow students to use opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms ignore the proper, healthy, and normal feelings of students who do not feel comfortable sharing locker rooms and restrooms with those of the opposite sex. Boys, who should leave a bathroom if a girl enters, and girls, who should leave a bathroom if a boy enters, are taught that those natural and good feelings are wrong. They are taught that their natural and good feelings of modesty are exclusionary, lacking in compassion, ignorant, and bigoted.
- Conversely, such policies falsely teach students that in order to be kind, compassionate, and inclusive of those who experience gender dysphoria, they have to affirm those peers’ feelings and ideas. In reality, neither compassion, nor wisdom, nor inclusivity requires affirmation and accommodation of every feeling, belief, or behavioral choice of every student in a school. And they certainly don’t require students to affirm confusion as soundness or lies as truth. Real love as well as commitments to morality, objective reality, and public order put limits on what individuals and schools should affirm and accommodate. And real love depends first on knowing what is true.
Rumors are circulating that gender-dysphoric students, enabled by their deceived parents, are asking school districts all over Illinois for permission to use opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms. School administrations are accommodating these requests (or demands) in diverse ways and doing so without community input, without parental notification, and without establishing policy. Further, school administrators are requiring that staff and faculty refer to gender-dysphoric students by opposite-sex pronouns, which constitutes either a government mandate to lie or a revolutionary revision of English grammar.
Here are some essential questions that community members should pose to their school boards:
If gender-dysphoric students should not be compelled to use restrooms and locker rooms with those whose “gender identity” they don’t share, why should other students be compelled to use facilities with those whose sex they don’t share?
- If restroom stalls and privacy changing areas provide sufficient privacy to force students to use facilities with those whose sex they don’t share, then why aren’t restroom stalls and privacy changing areas sufficient to force a gender-dysphoric student to use facilities with those whose “gender identity” they don’t share?
- If restroom stalls and privacy changing areas are sufficient to allow a male student in the girls’ facilities, then why not make all restrooms and locker rooms co-ed, including staff restrooms and locker rooms?
- Since pronouns denote and correspond to objective biological sex—not feelings about one’s sex—what if a staff member, teacher, or administrator views using opposite-sex pronouns for gender-dysphoric students as lying, and for moral and/or religious reasons object to lying or deception. Will their objections to lying be accommodated?
- Many “trans-activists” argue that “gender identity” is not fixed. What will schools do when faced with a student whose gender identity is “bi-gender” or “genderfluid” and he/she demands to use whichever facilities correspond to his/her gender on any particular day or year?
The proponents of tolerance and diversity demand nothing less than total ideological surrender and compulsory compliance with policies and practices that reflect their doctrinaire assumptions. Taxpayers in all Illinois communities should work preemptively to establish policy that mandates that restrooms and locker rooms correspond to objective biological sex. Sympathy for the confusion and disordered desires of gender-dysphoric students should not lead communities to affirm destructive policies that embody fiction.
The Left seeks to efface another essential boundary. In the twinkling of a winking and jaundiced eye, all boys will be able to use girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa. The goal of “trans-activists” is to eradicate the “binary.” The logical and inevitable end of these restroom and locker rooms policies, which are embedded with fallacious assumptions about the nature of physical embodiment, is to eradicate all distinctions in language, law and social institutions between male and female.
Chew on that for a moment, then gather those dust-collecting spines from the attic, and do something courageous with the doggedness of the Left.
Laurie Higgins is the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer.