High School Found Guilty of Discriminating Against Transgender Student
A while back, we shared news of a school near Chicago who fully acknowledged that they were breaking federal laws in their unwillingness to allow a transgender student to use the locker room that matches her identity. They forced her to change behind a curtain, essentially discriminating against her on the basis of her gender identity. Now, the U.S. Department of Education has looked over the case and found that yes, indeed, they are breaking federal law. Great.
According to the ruling, the U.S. Department of Education found that Township High School District 211 “is in violation of Title IX for excluding Student A from participation in and denying her the benefits of its education program, providing services to her in a different manner, subjecting her to different rules of behavior, and subjecting her to different treatment on the basis of sex.”
The school isn’t happy about the ruling, and maintains that their earlier decision was one that had all students’ privacy concerns in mind. Of course, they say this in spite of the fact that the trans student is being discriminated against (quite blatantly), and is being “othered” in a way that interferes with their well-being in a school setting.
Regardless, the student is trying to look on the bright side. In regards to the ruling, she said:
This decision makes me extremely happy because of what it means for me, personally, and for countless others. The district’s policy stigmatized me, often making me feel like I was not a ‘normal person.’
The Department of Education’s decision makes clear that what my school did was wrong. I hope no other student, anywhere, is forced to confront this indignity. It is a good day for all students, but especially those who are transgender all across the nation.
As I’ve said before, whether we like it or not, our experiences in high school often serve to shape the kind of person we’ll be when we grow up. For the school to isolate and remind this young woman how she might be different than the other students is unimaginably cruel. On top of that, the school to maintaining its position sends a message that even in what is supposed to be a safe space–our very schools–understanding of gender and gender identity has broken down to the point that they can’t even acknowledge blatant discrimination.
Take care with the message you’re sending to your students, because they learn from your example whether they know it or not. So try to send a message of understanding and acceptance, not one of discrimination and stigmatization. You can do that, can’t you?
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