Illinois judge recommends denial of transgender-access injunction

by Reuters
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 19:23 GMT

By Timothy Mclaughlin

CHICAGO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - An Illinois judge recommended the denial of an injunction to bar transgender high school students from using the restrooms and locker rooms of their choice, saying the Constitution does not protect students against having to share those areas with transgender classmates.

The case, centering on William Fremd High School in Palatine, a northwest suburb of Chicago, is one of many across the country challenging the U.S. Department of Education's policy that transgender students in public schools must be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choosing.

"High school students do not have a constitutional right not to share restrooms or locker rooms with transgender students whose sex assigned at birth is different than theirs," U.S. District Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert wrote on Tuesday.

Sharing a locker room or restroom with a transgender student does not create a "severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive hostile environment," because the school has provided alternative facilities to those who do not wish to share these areas with transgender students and installed privacy curtains in locker room changing areas, he added.

The plaintiffs, a group of five students and their parents, sued the federal government and local school district in May over the school policy, saying the decision to allow transgender students to use the locker rooms and restrooms of their choice infringed on privacy rights.

The group sought an injunction to halt enforcement of the federal government policy in August as the case proceeds.

Federal judge Jorge Alonso will now make a decision on the injunction based on Gilbert's recommendation.

Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois, which is representing three unidentified transgender students and their families, welcomed Gilbert's decision on Wednesday.

"This is a very good ruling for the federal government, for the school district and for our client," Yohnka said.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Arizona-based Christian group Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF).

"Young students should be not be forced into an intimate setting like a locker room with someone of the opposite sex," the ADF senior counsel Gary McCaleb said in a statement on Tuesday.

The ADF did not immediately respond to request for comment. The group has a similar case ongoing in Minnesota. (Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin)

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