A Chicago school must grant a transgender girl access to female locker rooms, President Barack Obama’s Department of Education ruled this week.
The decision, the first of its kind, comes after the student filed a federal complaint against her school in 2013 alleging a violation of her civil rights for being denied unrestricted access to the girls locker room.
"This decision makes me extremely happy — because of what it means for me, personally, and for countless others," the student said in statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union. "The district's policy stigmatized me, often making me feel like I was not a 'normal person.'”
The school initially proposed a compromise, giving the student a separate changing room and shower even though she had been playing on a girls sports team and is registered as a girl by the school.
"The Department of Education's decision makes clear that what my school did was wrong,” the student said. “I hope no other student, anywhere, is forced to confront this indignity. It is a good day for all students, but especially those who are transgender all across the nation.”
The Obama administration flexed its muscle Monday, saying the school has 30 days to comply with the ruling or risk losing federal funds as a result of violating a federal law that bans sex discrimination.
“All students deserve the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities – this is a basic civil right,” said Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education. “Unfortunately, Township High School District 211 is not following the law because the district continues to deny a female student the right to use the girls’ locker room.”