Beginning next semester, an Illinois high school will allow students to use whichever locker room best corresponds to their professed identity.
The Evanston Township High School’s board voted 6-1 on Monday to enact the policy change, saying it would protect transgender students. One board member told local media that the decision was a “significant civil rights breakthrough,” while another described it as “a huge step forward.”
Before, Evanston Township High School let students choose which pronouns they’re called, which bathroom they use, and which physical-education class they attend, all depending on their gender self-identification. The school also offers gender-neutral transcripts. And until now, it has provided a third, gender-neutral locker room for transgender students.
But one transgender student, Eric Greenfield, told the Daily Northwestern that using the gender-neutral locker room required students to “pretty much come out.”
Similar polices have been controversial elsewhere in Illinois; in 2015, more than 50 families sued after a Palatine high school opened its locker rooms to transgender students. That lawsuit is still ongoing.
The Palatine case has left legal questions about Evanston Township High School’s new policy “ambiguous and unresolved,” said Doug Holt, the lone board member who voted against the new locker room policy.
But another board member, Gretchen Livingston, said that not changing the locker room policy could also open up the high school to litigation, explaining that “the real risk to our district is a lawsuit brought by a transgender student.”