In early March, four 9th grade girls at East High School (EHS) in the Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) used the shower area in their locker room after their physical-education class. Because transgender ideology has permeated Wisconsin schools, the girls experienced a grave violation of their privacy. Thankfully, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) is taking a stand for the victims and demanding answers.
As the girls began to shower in their swimsuits after swim class, an 18-year-old male student entered the shower area and told the girls he was “trans.” Then, the male student fully undressed, completely exposing himself to these freshmen girls.
Parents of the girls alerted the school district of the incident, but administrators failed to address the issue and provided a “completely inadequate” response, according to WILL. Under federal law, school administrators should have reported the incident to the Title IX coordinator right away. Then, the coordinator should have contacted the four girls and helped them file a complaint. However, no one contacted the girls or launched an investigation.
After several requests, the girls’ parents were finally able to meet with school administrators to discuss the incident over a month after it occurred. However, no one was able to provide answers to the parents’ questions. District staff simply referenced a “policy” that they claimed addresses this situation, but they did not identify, describe, or bring the policy to the meeting.
Several days later, the EHS principal sent a copy of a “Restroom and Locker Room Accessibility Guidance” policy to one of the parents, but according to WILL, there is no “indication that this policy has ever been in effect, was in effect on March 3, or was ever approved by the School Board.”
Further, the guidance document allows males to use the girls’ locker room regardless of the comfort of female students. The guidance only says that if a male requests to use the women’s locker room, then school administrators will evaluate and respond to the request on a “case-by-case basis.” However, “What if there is no such request? Is permission to use the girls’ locker room required? Who evaluates whether access will be permitted? The policy does not answer these questions,” noted WILL in a letter to the district.
WILL went on to ask administrators to implement policies that will immediately protect the privacy and safety of students, noting that the school violated Title IX.
“Under the Title IX regulations, sex discrimination encompasses sexual harassment, which includes unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe that it effectively denies a person equal access to the education program. Here, four freshman girls taking a shower in their swimsuits in what is supposed to be a private and safe space, were exposed to the male genitals of a senior student against their will. Considering student development, high school being a relatively new environment for freshman girls, the power dynamics between not only a biological male and female but between a senior and a freshman, and student safety, the age difference of the students here is relevant,” reads the letter.
WILL is also demanding that the district offer supportive measures to victims of sexual harassment, provide victims an opportunity to file a complaint, conduct investigations of such cases, re-train district staff, hold accountable the staff that failed to uphold students’ rights, and adjust district policies and guidance documents to protect students.
“School districts need to think through what loosening boundaries for single-sex spaces could mean for girls. Parents are understandably concerned about whether school districts—like the Sun Prairie Area School District—are doing everything required to protect girls in bathrooms and locker rooms,” said Libby Sobic, WILL Director of Education Policy. This incident is what inevitably happens when policy is rooted in ideology rather than reality, common sense, and the right to personal, bodily privacy. No student should have to fear sexual harassment while using a bathroom or locker room at school.
Hopefully this case serves as yet another wake-up call for parents whose children are in a government school. If this happened in Sun Prairie (a “bedroom community” of Madison), it can happen in most any school in our state. From what we can tell, this young man was not dressed like a girl, he simply announced that he was “trans.” Students don’t have to do anything in most schools to “prove” they are “trans.” They just have to announce it. Parents, for the well-being of their children, need to know what the school’s policies are, how they are being enforced, and keep open and frequent communication with their children on this issue.
If WILL doesn’t get the right response from SPASD, we would assume they will sue the district, making this another poignant lesson for all Wisconsin schools. Special rights and protections for “trans” students cannot violate the fundamental rights of “non-trans” students, with girls being the most vulnerable in these situations.