The DOE is now in the High School Girls' Shower
For more than two decades Americans have become desensitized to the arrogance, hubris and general incompetence of Washington insiders. Each succeeding administration has seemingly tried to outdo the previous administration in outrageous conduct, whether it be in creative tax burdens or reasons for sending young Americans to other countries to fight and die. Every day brings another revelation causing Americans to roll their eyes, shake their heads, and wonder what, if anything, can be done to a government that seems to pay no attention to its citizens whatsoever.
Consider one recent headline in the morning newspaper: “Illinois District Violated Transgender Student’s Rights, U.S. Says.” The headline in and of itself did not sound an alarm. Gender identity as well as other gender-related issues are societal issues in the news frequently now. However, the extent of the intrusion by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE), makes it clear that Secretary Arne Duncan is going to make one last reach and grab for everything the ideology-obsessed far left have asked him for.
The Civil Rights Division of the DoE declared a new cultural battleground when it sent a letter to Dr. Daniel Cates, Superintendent of the Township High School District 211, a school district near Palentine, Illinois, accusing the district violating anti-discrimination laws when it did not allow a transgender student who identifies as a girl to change and shower with the girls in the girls’ locker room without restrictions. The DoE gave the district 30 days to accommodate the transgender student or lose its Title IX funding.
The problem began when the transgender student’s family filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), because the student was not allowed to shower with the female students. The student filing the complaint is biologically male, but self-identifies as female. The school made arrangements to accommodate transgender students by providing separate, private facilities for the student to use to use. This was not satisfactory for this student.
Dr. Daniel Cates, the superintendent, described the DoE intrusion as “...a serious overreach with precedent-setting implications.” Cates said, “OCR has rejected our proposal to have transgender students into our locker rooms along with a reasonable request to shower or change clothes in private. OCR has taken this position although there is no federal law that allows any high school student who remains anatomically one sex to disrobe or shower in the presence of others who are of the opposite sex in a public school locker room.”
Cates added that the district would continue to discuss the problem with the DoE, but added, “We do stand on the position that we have not violated any laws.” He said parents had made it resoundingly clear that they favored “...maintaining some measure of privacy expectation” in the locker rooms. He added, “...the District will continue to provide private accommodations for transgender students to ensure a respectful school environment.”
There are many concerns this event surfaces. First, why does the DoE have a Civil Rights division? There is a U.S. Department of Justice with a Civil Rights division.
Second, one only has to look at the DoE’s Law and Guidance web page to get a better understanding of why education is in such an abysmal state. There are a plethora of laws the DoE has illegally created to allow it to insert itself into every aspect of a child’s life.
Third, why is the DoE inserting itself into local school issues that have nothing to do with learning? The transgender student has the same access to the legal system as anyone and could can file a suit against the District.
Fourth, what about the right to privacy of the biologically female students? How much more government ordered and subsidized intimacy will the DoE require of these young girls?
John Knight, the director of the L.G.B.T. and H.I.V. Project of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois defended the suit saying, “What our client wants is not hard to understand: She wants to be accepted for who she is and to be treated with dignity and respect -- like any other student.” Knight gave away the long-term goal in his statement, “This is the first time the Department of Education has ruled on a case of this sort and they are the experts, and their determination that this is a violation of federal law should have an impact nationally.” This is the overreach Dr. Cates spoke of. The DoE has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to insert itself into curriculum at the state and local level. Having failed at illegal attempts to control curriculum they now have the new cultural battlefield to spend money on and try to take political advantage of.
There is much more that can and will be written about the legacy of Arne Duncan, but regarding this issue there is no logical, practical, and more to the point, legal justification for the DoE’s attempt to violate young girl’s rights to privacy.
In a bizarre and disgusting case, the law was made clear by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Ed.526 U.S. 629 (1999)):
“A private Title IX damages action may lie against a school board in cases of student-on-student harassment, but only where the funding recipient is deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment, of which the recipient has actual knowledge, and that harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.”
In the Township High School District 211case, the plaintiff is the biological male demanding his right to shower with the biological female students and yet claims to be the one being harmed. The significance is the plaintiff has no standing under the courts ruling and the existing law, yet the DoE made a decision with no legal authority to take the District’s Title IX funding unless they bend to the will of the DoE.
Here is the reality: this is not about transgender rights; they have been met by the District providing a private facility. It is about the biological female student’s right to privacy; it is about the biological female’s safety; it is about the parent’s expectation of protection of their daughters when in the care of the school. It is only a matter of time before some creative biological male who is not transgender decides to shower with the girl’s for any number of nefarious purposes.
The U.S. Department of Education has tried for the last 7 years to implement the Obama administration’s numerous social engineering agendas and failed. It is time to abolish the Department of Education, strip it of the multi-billion-dollar budget, and put the Office of Education in place such as existed before 1979.
Larry Creech holds a BA and MA in Humanities and Liberal Studies from Georgetown University where he is currently preparing to defend his Doctoral dissertation in interdisciplinary studies.