Trump administration drops support of local transgendered student

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The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice on Friday reversed their stance in the case of a transgender student in a Palatine school district, withdrawing support that had been given by the Obama administration a few months ago.

In that earlier joint opinion, the two federal agencies sided with the high school student whose request to use the girls locker room had been challenged by a group of parents seeking to keep her out. The Trump administration has now changed its stance in the case.

Noting that federal courts nationwide have differed on the issue of transgendered students getting access to locker rooms, the education and justice departments said in the court filing they will “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.”

They added there must be “due regard” for the primary role states and local school districts play in setting educational policy.

The court filing also states this “withdrawal of support” does not leave students without protection from discrimination, bullying or harassment.

The Palatine-based Township High School District 211 originally denied the student full access to the student, who has identified as female for several years, allowing her to use only the girls’ bathroom.

The student sought help from the American Civil Liberties Union before she filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging the district discriminated against her by denying her full access to the locker room.

Following review, federal authorities found the district had violated Title IX, and the district granted the student access to the locker room.

In the aftermath of that decision, which civil rights groups called a major victory, a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the district in May 2016, claiming their students’ constitutional rights to privacy were being violated.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert recommended a decision in favor of the school district, writing in October that high school students do not have a constitutional protection against sharing locker rooms or bathrooms with transgender peers.

The parents had sought an injunction to temporarily suspend the student’s access to the bathroom until the lawsuit was resolved, but that request was denied.

U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso will review Gilbert’s recommendation and make a final ruling.

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