The Chicago Public School system is now requiring its schools to adopt new signage to make their bathrooms ‘more inclusive’. The requirement allows students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity whether they are biologically male or female. Schools were required to comply with the orders by December 8.
CPS touts the move as a “big step forward” for gender equity. Camy Pratt, the district’s Chief Title IX officer, states in a video posted first on November 27th, “We will be providing all schools with updated signage that makes our bathrooms more inclusive. They will identify the fixtures available in each restroom and make it clear that all restrooms are open for use by anyone who feels comfortable.”
The decision will directly impact hundreds of thousands of children, as more than 340,000 students were enrolled last year across 421 elementary schools and 91 high schools in the district.
Even for the youngest students who make up the elementary schools, the signs will feature explanations such as, “This is a gender-neutral restroom with multiple stalls. It is open to users of any gender identity or expression.”
Pratt claims in the video that the move was made “in compliance with new federal guidelines,” though there is no federal law in place on the subject. The Biden Administration did issue an executive order on January 20th of this year, citing Title VII’s “prohibition on discrimination ‘because of…sex’” that tossed Title IX into the mix when discussing access to bathrooms and locker rooms. This inclusion is murky at best, considering Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion regarding this case that, “Under Title VII, too, we do not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind.”
Pratt also stated that CPS is looking at long-term plans to make the signage permanent. However, the swiftness and apparent finality of the decision have left many parents reeling, wondering where their voice factors into this decision.
CPS announced the decision within a month of Loudoun County, Virginia students storming out of class to express their disapproval of how the district handled a sexual assault case. In that case, a biologically male student entered a women’s bathroom while wearing a skirt and assaulted a female student. The student was permitted to enter the girl’s restroom due to a recent state law that forced schools to allow students to choose restrooms based on gender identity.