School district says feds will accuse them of discriminating against transgender student

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A high school district in the Northwest Suburbs says the federal government will accuse officials this week of discriminating against a transgender student.

District 211 runs some of Illinois' biggest high schools, and it's allowing the transgender student to use girls' rest rooms, but not girls' locker rooms. 

Officials note there are privacy stalls in rest rooms, but none in locker rooms. They are providing a separate space for the transgender student to shower and change.

Palatine-Schaumburg District 211 said the U.S. Department of Education is now threatening to cut off $6 million in federal aid over the locker room issue, and to sue in federal court.

A lawyer for the transgender student in the Palatine Schaumburg District compared having to shower and change in a separate room to racial discrimination against dark-skinned people.

“They're setting aside a separate bathroom and telling only her that she has to use that rest room to dress. That is discriminatory. There's no other way to look at it,” said lawyer John Knight of the ACLU of Illinois.

No one is publicly identifying which of District 211's high schools the student attends. 211 has more than 12,000 students enrolled primarily at five sprawling campuses: Palatine, Fremd, Conant, Hoffman Estates, and Schaumburg High Schools.

Both sides agreed the transgender student has been treated well on campus and has not been subject to bullying. District officials claimed that vindicated their approach and indicated they're looking forward to defending it in federal court against OCR, the Office of Civil Rights.

“We offered options that included access for transgender students in the locker rooms, providing that transgender students simply change in an area that afforded privacy within the locker room. We offered to create a collection of private changing areas that would be open to all students. OCR has insisted that there be no restrictions in the locker rooms,” a 211 official said.

FOX 32 could not contact the Office of Civil Rights on this Columbus Day holiday. We expect they may have a lot to say later this week about the threatened federal lawsuit.