Earlier this month, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights issued a report “slamming” a suburban Chicago school district for its handling of a question that now dominates headlines: should biological males who identify as female be allowed to use women’s locker rooms and bathrooms?
The Department of Education opined that denying access to the girls’ locker room for a Palatine, Illinois, teenage boy who identifies as a girl violated Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.
Now just so you know, Title IX reads that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
You may note the key word there is sex, not gender.
Until recently, the best-known and most controversial application of Title IX was to mandate a rough parity in intercollegiate athletics. Now, the Obama administration is invoking it to mandate parity in locker room and bathroom access.
What happened in Illinois is only one ripple in what seems like a tidal wave that will sweep away modesty, privacy, and common sense. Many parents wonder if they can do anything to stem this tide. After all, can you stop the federal government?
The Alliance Defending Freedom’s answer is a resounding “yes!”
Speaking recently on Moody Radio, the ADF’s Matt Sharp said that “If you look at what the [legal] precedent says, and what the most recent courts looking at this issue have found,” it becomes clear that “schools can have these separate facilities” for boys and girls.
According to Sharp, schools “can take steps to protect the privacy of their students as the Palatine Township School District [did.]” Contrary to what the Department of Education said, it can require a transgender “student to change in a different area or a curtained-off area . . . all with the goal of protecting the privacy of the females in the locker room.”
Sharp and the ADF are so confident in the soundness of their legal analysis that if a school district adopts ADF’s stance on separate facilities for boys and girls and then gets sued, “the Alliance Defending Freedom is willing to represent [the district] free of charge, so [the district will not be] out-of-pocket for taking a stand on what is right and what common sense says we ought to do.”
Sharp and the ADF aren’t alone in their conclusion. Sacha Coupet of Loyola University’s Civitas Child Law Center told the journal Athletic Business that when claims like the one in Palatine “have gone beyond the Department of Education into federal court, [the Department’s] interpretation has yet to hold sway.”
Courts in Pennsylvania and Virginia have “found that Title IX does not prohibit schools from limiting access on the basis of a person's sex.”
Now, all of this legal confidence doesn’t help matters if school officials aren’t willing to take a stand for what is right and what common sense dictates. And this is where parents—both Christians and non-Christians—come in.
Students struggling with gender identity need to be respected, loved, and helped. But it must be known that no school has to allow boys in girls’ locker rooms. As Sharp urges, parents need “to show up at school board meetings and inform board members about the law.” And, I’d add, not as jerks but out of sincere concern for all students, equipped with the information about how “federal courts have said you’re not in violation of Title IX if you maintain these separate facilities.”
If the school board insists on caving, parents should contact ADF. And don’t be shy to respectfully remind your school board officials that they’re elected and that you vote.
While all this may seem daunting, students are worth fighting for, and on this issue, we can win.
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BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: November 20, 2015