- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2016

A group comprised of 51 Illinois families on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the federal government and a Chicago school district over a policy that they say tramples on student privacy and safety.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Students and Parents for Privacy, challenges directives issued by the U.S. Department of Education forcing Township High School District 211 to allow transgender students to use girls’ locker rooms.

It alleges the Department of Education lacks authority to reinterpret Title IX as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, rather than biological sex, and seeks an injunction to prevent the school district from implementing the policy. The Department of Education in 2014 issued a memo saying Title IX prohibits discrimination in education on the basis of gender identity.

Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the families along with local support from the Thomas More Society, told the Daily Signal that the suit is an attempt to “stop the Department of Education from redefining sex in Title IX to include gender identity. It has no authority whatsoever to do that.”

The families say the lawsuit is about balancing the interests of transgender students with the privacy rights of other students.

The lawsuit came the same day as a Justice Department letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, threatening to pull millions in federal education funding from the state if a law barring people from using the public restrooms of the opposite sex is not repealed by Monday. The Justice Department said the law violates Title IX.

The Chicago incident stems from a complaint filed in 2013 by a transgender student, who alleged the school district’s locker room policies were discriminatory and violated federal civil rights law.

District 211 had previously made accommodations by allowing the biologically male student access to girls’ restrooms and the ability to compete on girls’ sports teams. But the district drew the line at unmitigated locker room access, instead offering the student a private facility to change in.

In its investigation, the Department of Education said the student felt “crushed” by the policy. The agency ordered the school district to grant the student access to the girls’ locker room and install privacy curtains, or risk losing federal education funding.

The school district said it could lose up to $6 million in federal education funding if it does not comply with the order.

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