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‘Radical’ feminist organization criticizes ETHS transgender locker room policy

Evanston+Township+High+School%2C+1600+Dodge+Ave.+The+Women%E2%80%99s+Liberation+Front%2C+a+self-proclaimed+radical+feminist+organization%2C+voiced+its+opposition+to+ETHS%E2%80%99s+new+transgender+locker+room+policy.
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‘Radical’ feminist organization criticizes ETHS transgender locker room policy

Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. The Women’s Liberation Front, a self-proclaimed radical feminist organization, voiced its opposition to ETHS’s new transgender locker room policy.

Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. The Women’s Liberation Front, a self-proclaimed radical feminist organization, voiced its opposition to ETHS’s new transgender locker room policy.

Allie Goulding/Daily Senior Staffer

Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. The Women’s Liberation Front, a self-proclaimed radical feminist organization, voiced its opposition to ETHS’s new transgender locker room policy.

Allie Goulding/Daily Senior Staffer

Allie Goulding/Daily Senior Staffer

Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. The Women’s Liberation Front, a self-proclaimed radical feminist organization, voiced its opposition to ETHS’s new transgender locker room policy.

Amelia Langas, Assistant City Editor

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Evanston Township High School/District 202’s newly implemented transgender locker room policy received backlash from a self-proclaimed radical feminist organization, which voiced its opposition of the policy.

The Women’s Liberation Front is a grassroots international organization comprised of all-female volunteers who work to empower women and “resist all systems of oppression.” Board chair Natasha Chart told The Daily in an email that WoLF does not support ETHS’ locker room policy because it does not create a “safe or equitable learning environment” for non-transgender girls.

“Girls have privacy needs related to menstruation, and are often intimidated or shamed around these needs, particularly by male peers,” Chart said. “These policies also teach girls that they can complain about unwanted exposure to male nudity everywhere except their locker rooms, where they are also expected to undress.”

Kara Dansky, a spokesperson for WoLF, said the group heard about ETHS’ new policy through its involvement in the national discourse on gender identity. In 2016, WoLF filed a lawsuit in New Mexico against an Obama-era interpretation of Title IX — which bars discrimination based on sex — to include gender identity. However, Dansky said WoLF is not considering any legal action against ETHS at this time.

The District 202 board voted overwhelmingly last spring to pass the new policy, which allows transgender students to pick a locker room that corresponds to their gender. Previously, transgender students could use the bathroom of their choice but had to request access to a separate locker room.

Board member Gretchen Livingston, who voted for the policy, said in May that the board had an obligation to “do better” for its students.

“Simply put, we do not treat our students differently on the basis of characteristics like skin color or disability, nor should we do so on the basis on gender identity,” Livingston said.

However, Chart said girls often are shamed if they do not include transgender people in their definition of “girls.” WoLF defines the term “girl” as “human female adults and human female children,” Dansky said in an email.

Chart said Title IX “provides for comparable, but separate facilities for students on the basis of sex, rather than personality or opinions.”

The 1972 education amendment legally removed barriers that prevent people from participating in educational opportunities and careers based on their sex. Yet while Title IX mentions sex, it does not address gender identity.

In addition to citing Title IX, Chart said WoLF opposes the policy because ETHS already offered private spaces for students who did not feel comfortable in their assigned facility.

“If students don’t wish to change in the facilities provided for them on the basis of their sex, the school was already prepared to offer alternative, private facilities,” she said. “If a student is concerned about his or her safety, or additional privacy needs, this should be enough.”

Taya Kinzie, associate principal for student services at ETHS, said the policy has not created any problems among students, including non-transgender female students.

The school has measures in place that “respect the privacy” of all students, she said. These measures include partitions in locker rooms and private spaces for students who “have a need or desire.”

Since the policy has been implemented, Kinzie said no students have asked for increased privacy.

“Our policy has been designed to affirm all student (identities), definitely not to cause harm or infringe on rights,” she said. “That’s our strong commitment.”

Email: amelialangas@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @amelialangas

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