Illinois Freedom Caucus: Minor girls shouldn’t have to change with trans in locker rooms

Illinois state Rep. David Friess, R-Red Bud, during a news conference Greg Bishop / The Center Square

The legality of whether a private institution like the Springfield YMCA is required to allow transgender individuals into women’s locker rooms even with minors present is being called into question. 

The issue was elevated by a Springfield family who’s 16-year-old daughter objected to using a locker room with a transgender adult. 

YMCA CEO Angie Sowel told the Illinois Times they will remain inclusive to the trans community with a focus on safety, including running their membership list through a sex offender database daily.   

“We have extensive staff training,” Sowel said. “There’s many, many things that go on behind the scenes in order to have us be the safest place we can possibly be.”

Weeks ago, the Springfield YMCA said they are bound by the law to allow transgender individuals into the locker room of their choice. 

Last week, state Rep. David Friess, R-Red Bud, disagreed and read from the Illinois Human Rights Act. 

“Nothing in this article shall apply to facilities distinctly private,” Friess said. “Any facility as to discrimination based on sex which is distinctly private in nature such as restrooms, shower rooms, bathhouses and health clubs.”

Friess argued recent case law on the issue is suspect. 

“If radical case law pertaining to sex and gender identity prevails, the inescapable result will be the eradication of all sex-segregated private spaces for everyone,” Friess said. 

The YMCA declined to provide additional comment, including why the institution was elevating inclusion of transgender individuals in locker rooms over the concerns raised by minor girls. 

Friess said he and the Illinois Freedom Caucus will push to make things clear in state statute. 

“Moving forward, I fully anticipate that my colleagues and I will propose legislation to try and reform these statutes based on biological gender assigned at birth,” he said. 

Lawmakers don’t return to legislative session until sometime this fall.

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