Wheaton, Illinois, long known as a faith-friendly community in large part due to the presence of Wheaton College, no longer extends a hearty welcome to conservative people of faith. The Wheaton Park District just reinforced the growing sense among conservatives that Wheaton is no longer a safe haven for conservative families.
Just this week, Daniel Novak, Director of Athletics and Facilities for the Wheaton Park District, sent a responsive email in which he wrote,
At Wheaton Park District facilities, patrons may use the restroom/locker room that corresponds with their gender identity. All Wheaton Park District patrons are expected to be discreet when using restrooms and locker rooms facilities.
Novak’s first statement conflicts with park district policy Sec. 2.8 on the Use of Restrooms, Washrooms, and Locker Rooms, found in the “General Use Ordinances” (page12), which prohibits anyone over age 5 to “enter into or remain in any restroom, restroom washroom, or locker room designated for the opposite sex.”
This new policy also conflicts with the Illinois Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on “gender identity” and states the following:
775 ILCS 5/5-103) (from Ch. 68, par. 5-103) Sec. 5-103. Exemption. Nothing in this Article shall apply to … Facilities Distinctly Private. Any facility, as to discrimination based on sex, which is distinctly private in nature such as restrooms, shower rooms, bath houses, health clubs.
According to community members who spoke with members of the Wheaton Park District Board of Commissioners, the commissioners did not vote on changing restroom/locker room policies.
Novak’s letter raises questions to which Wheaton community members ought to demand answers.
If the board of commissioners has not voted to permit the sexual integration of restrooms and locker rooms, by whose authority did Daniel Novak claim that patrons may use restrooms and locker rooms designated for persons of the opposite sex?
The name of the person (or persons) who decided to sexually integrate restrooms and locker rooms in violation of board policy should be made public.
How is “discreet” defined in this spanking new policy? Historically, girls and women have been permitted to be partially and fully undressed in women’s locker rooms. That’s the purpose for locker rooms. Does Novak now consider it indiscreet for girls and women to be partially or fully undressed in their locker rooms?
If teen girls and women remain permitted to fully undress in women’s locker rooms, will teen boys and adult men who “identify” as female be permitted to fully undress in women’s locker rooms?
In shared private spaces, do girls and women have an intrinsic right to be free of the presence of biological males to whom they are unrelated? If so, how can sexually integrating their private spaces be justified? What difference should it make to girls and women if the strange naked man in their locker room likes his sex or not?
If, on the other hand, they have no such intrinsic right, why have any single-sex shared private spaces? Why not make all locker rooms co-ed?
In the religiously diverse community of Wheaton, there are Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants who object to undressing and engaging in personal bodily activities in the presence of opposite-sex persons. How does this revolutionary new policy honor, respect, include, and make them feel safe?
Since Wheaton yet has a strong faith community that knows the human species is sexually dimorphic, that knows that physical embodiment as male or female has deep meaning, and knows that it is profoundly wrong for a society to disregard both the meaning of sexed bodies and the safety of girls and women, let’s hope faith leaders step forward to stand courageously for truth.