EDITORIAL: Bi-Partisan Legislation Provides Compromise for Bathroom/Locker Room Use at Schools

By State Rep. Tom Morrison and State Rep. Mary Flowers
It may surprise many parents and students to learn that schools are now granting students access to restrooms and locker rooms based upon a subjective view of personal gender identity rather than an objective standard such as biological sex and anatomy.

Regarding school-sponsored trips, a genderspectrum.org model policy states that, “in most (emphasis ours) cases students will be assigned to share overnight accommodations with other students that share the student’s gender identity.” The school district shall not disclose this information to the parents of the other students. In other words, parents have no idea what the sleeping arrangement is going to be for their children.

Is it appropriate to allow the co-mingling of students of the opposite anatomical sex within school restrooms, locker rooms or hotel rooms on overnight field trips? Furthermore, when this occurs, why aren’t parents being informed?

At Palatine-Schaumburg Township High School District 211, a student—a biological male who identifies as female—was granted access to the girls' locker room after the federal Department of Education threatened legal action and financial penalties if the district did not comply. These unelected Washington bureaucrats have used their own novel interpretation of settled federal Title IX law to pressure other school districts, as well. They, along with a vocal minority of agenda-driven activist groups, are driving these policy changes.

We can all agree that all bullying is harmful and unacceptable, so a solution must be reached that does not trade the rights of one group for another. Many students justifiably feel their privacy would be compromised by having to change clothes beside students with opposite anatomy. Likewise, parents do not want their daughters to undress beside students with male anatomy or their sons to share a locker room with students with female anatomy.

We and our co-sponsors have introduced HB4474 in order to protect the interests of ALL children. HB4474 allows school boards the option of designating a private, single-occupancy facility for students who request a special accommodation while also ensuring schools maintain exclusively single-sex facilities. Our bill is in line with both federal law and the Illinois Human Rights Act, which allows for distinctly private spaces to be separated by biological sex. This bipartisan legislation is a win-win solution which will meet the needs of everyone involved.

Opponents claim that providing privacy stalls in de facto co-ed bathrooms and locker rooms is sufficient to protect student privacy. If this were true, aren’t those same privacy stalls sufficient to separate a biologically male student who identifies as female from other male students in the male facilities?

Also, it is important to realize that locker room privacy stalls still fail to protect student privacy because the majority of students change in the locker rooms’ open, common areas while a student or students of the opposite anatomical sex will walk past them to access a privacy stall.

Additionally, what about the safety of a female student who identifies as a male? Wouldn’t that student be safer in a single-occupancy room rather than a multi-use male facility?

Some other opponents of HB4474 point to civil rights abuses in American history, but comparisons to racial segregation are inappropriate.

Racial segregation was based on the absurd notion that races are substantively different. Providing separate facilities based on sex stems from the true belief that males and females are biologically, physiologically and anatomically different. Those differences are the basis for the desire for privacy in these types of public places. The purpose behind separating males and females has never been to exclude nor to maintain the superiority of one sex over another but merely to recognize the many differences between the sexes.

We cannot selectively pick winners and losers when it comes to privacy—especially when the ones affected by those decisions are vulnerable minors who need protection, including those who have been victims of sexual abuse.

This is an issue that requires sensitivity and fairness. We share the desire to do what is best for children. We believe our legislation is a common-sense solution and is the best option to protect the safety, modesty, and privacy of all children.