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Supreme Court of the United States

Court Stops the ACLU from Further Violating the Privacy of High School Students

By Sarah Kramer posted on:
January 25, 2018

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims to be dedicated to defending women’s rights. That is, unless it’s the privacy rights of high school girls.

This is illustrated nowhere better than in the Palatine school district in Illinois.

There, the school district has put in place policies that allow a male student to dress and undress behind a privacy screen in the girls’ locker room because he claims a female gender identity.

The ACLU has filed suit against the school district.

You might think they have filed suit because this is a major violation of the privacy rights of the high school girls who are being forced to change in and out of their P.E. uniforms with a boy present in their locker room.

But you would be wrong. Instead, the ACLU is saying that this policy doesn’t take it far enough.

The ACLU is demanding that this high school boy have full access to the girls’ locker room and that he be allowed to dress and undress next to the high school girls.

Strangely, the ACLU is claiming that the state nondiscrimination laws requires such a policy. The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation, among other characteristics. However, that law specifically prevents the Act from covering “‘[a]ny facility . . . which is distinctly private in nature such as restrooms, shower rooms, bath houses, health clubs and other similar facilities’” and allows those types of facilities to remain separate based on biological sex.

Fortunately, a state court just rejected the ACLU’s arguments, and refused to grant the student unfettered access to the girls’ locker room while the lawsuit progressed. This is a significant step toward recognizing the obvious: intermixing the sexes in school locker rooms violates everyone’s bodily privacy.

Alliance Defending Freedom represents an association of parents and students, Students and Parents for Privacy, who are protecting students from this privacy-violating policy at both the state and federal level.

There are sensible reasons to keep private facilities separated by biological sex—just as our society always has. Illinois recognized this in their nondiscrimination laws. Even the United States Supreme Court did years ago, when it ordered that the Virginia Military Institute become co-ed—but also said that it would be proper to provide separate living facilities in light of the real, unchangeable differences between men and women.  It’s the ACLU that can’t seem to accept this.

This win is a small but important step toward restoring privacy in private spaces for young students in Illinois. But it is not over, and the ACLU will continue trying to strip the school district of its power to make decisions that best serve the privacy and dignity rights of their students.

The ACLU can trumpet its support of women’s rights all it wants. Their actions speak louder than their words.


Learn more about this case and others like it where ADF is working to defend student privacy.

Learn More


Sarah Kramer

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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