A district court in Illinois refused to dismiss a Title IX claim involving a high school's policy of allowing transgender students to use the locker rooms of their choice. While the most important part of the decision is just how preliminary it is – motions to dismiss are only the first attempt by a defendant to beat a lawsuit – the case signals how broad sexual discrimination and misconduct claims can be, and how schools find themselves in hopeless situations.
Students Sue School Over Transgender Locker Room Policy
A school district in Illinois adopted a policy that allowed transgender students to use the locker rooms and bathrooms according to their gender, rather than their assigned biological sex. This upset some of the other students in the district, and they bound together to sue the school. According to these other students, the policy led to their exposure to the opposite sex in restrooms and locker rooms, causing them “embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, fear, apprehension, stress, degradation and loss of dignity.”
According to the students filing the lawsuit, this amounted to sexual harassment under Title IX, as well a violation of numerous other constitutional rights.
District Court Refuses to Dismiss Title IX Claim Against School
The school filed a motion to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim of action. These motions are designed to give the defendant an opportunity to quickly throw away lawsuits that could not win, even if they had all of the evidence on their side, because there is no law that could support their claim.
While the court dismissed the students' other constitutional claims, it refused to dismiss their Title IX allegations that the transgender policy constituted sexual harassment and discrimination. Based on the students' allegations, it was conceivable that they could amass the evidence needed to show that the school turned a blind eye to sexual harassment through their locker room policy, which would allow the students to win their case. Basically, because the students' Title IX claim was not grounded in anything, the court let it continue.
Schools Between a Rock and a Hard Place
The ruling shows just how difficult it is to be a school in today's world. If the school had refused to allow transgender students access to a bathroom or locker room in accordance with their gender, they could have faced a Title IX case filed by transgender students. Because the school allowed it, though, it is defending against a Title IX case filed by the other students.
National Title IX Advisor Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento is a national Title IX advisor who also represents students who have been accused of sexual misconduct. He works to fight for the due process rights of the accused and make sure their side of the story gets heard before they are treated poorly.
If you are facing accusations for sexual misconduct and want to protect your future, call attorney Joseph D. Lento at (888) 535-3686 or contact him online for the guidance you need.