Students have the right to privacy, and this is why lawyers from the non-profit national public interest law firm Thomas More Society and the conservative Christian non-profit organisation Alliance Defending Freedom have sent a letter to a public school in Illinois stressing the need for sex-specific showers and changing areas for students and keeping opposite-sex students, including transgender students, out of those areas.
The letter—addressed to the School Board and Superintendent Daniel Cates of Township High School District 211 in Cook County, Illinois—was prompted by requests from LGBT students in that school for them to be allowed to use the shower rooms and changing areas corresponding to their preferred sex.
The Obama administration's Office of Civil Rights earlier required all school districts in the country to reverse their previous policy on the subject and allow LGBT students to share the same shower rooms and changing areas with straight students, according to Charisma News.
However, the Thomas More Society said the White House directive was unwise.
"A school should not force students to share a shower and changing room with students of the opposite sex," said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society special counsel. "If a high school student who is biologically male is allowed to use the female showers and changing room, this would jeopardise the privacy of all the young women using their designated locker room. Instead, the privacy rights of all children must be guaranteed and protected, and separate accommodations provided as necessary."
The two non-profit organisations backed up their joint letter with a legal defence, stating that there is no federal law that requires public schools to open sex-specific restrooms, showers, and changing areas to opposite-sex students. Should school officials insist on imposing the shared showers, they would be violating the fundamental rights of the vast majority of students and parents, the groups warned.
Moreover, schools have broad discretion to regulate the use of school restrooms, showers, and changing areas, they said.
"Allowing students to use opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms would seriously endanger students' privacy and safety, undermine parental authority, violate religious students' free exercise rights, and severely impair an environment conducive to learning," said Breen. "These dangers are so clear-cut that a school district allowing such activity would clearly expose itself to tort [civil wrong] liability. Consequently, school districts should reject policies that force students to share restrooms and locker rooms with members of the opposite sex."