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Illinois families considering appeal after court declines to protect student privacy

ADF attorneys represent 51 families concerned about male student in girls’ locker rooms
This Ohio School District Wants to Protect the Privacy of Its Students, but the Government Won't Allow It

CHICAGO – A federal court Friday declined to temporarily stop an Illinois school district from enforcing policies that authorize a male student to use the girls’ locker rooms. Because the decision allows an ongoing risk of privacy violations while the case continues in court, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing 51 families say that they are considering an immediate appeal.

“School policies should promote the rights and safety of all students, no matter who they are, but the school district placed its political preferences ahead of that and ahead of the law,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb. “Because the court should have suspended the district’s privacy-violating policies, we will likely appeal.”

The district opened its schools’ restrooms to the opposite sex—without informing parents—and then opened the girls’ locker room to a boy after the Obama administration’s Department of Education threatened the district’s federal funding. Under the Trump administration, the agency rescinded the Obama administration’s attempt to rewrite federal law and restored the longstanding interpretation of Title IX.

That 1972 federal law prohibits schools from discriminating “on the basis of sex,” which for more than 40 years has meant “male” or “female.” Title IX’s existing regulations specifically state that a school receiving federal funds can “provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex” without putting that funding at risk.

ADF attorneys represent families consisting of more than 130 students and parents in the lawsuit, Students and Parents for Privacy v. United States Department of Education, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

“Any safety and privacy policy must respect the needs of all children because every child matters,” McCaleb said. “No child should be forced into an intimate setting—like a locker room—with another child of the opposite sex, and no school should impose a policy that so clearly violates the right to bodily privacy. Parents have a right to protect their children’s privacy, and the district must listen to the parents and students they are paid to serve.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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