FOIA Advisor

Q&A: A gender bender from the Land of Lincoln

Q&A (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q. I am curious about the gender of interviewed candidates for leadership roles in a local school district.  Is this protected under exemption 6?

A.  Exemption 6 refers to the personal privacy exemption of the federal FOIA, which is not applicable to a local district. The Illinois FOIA, however, contains a similar privacy exemption in section 7(1)(c).  In my view, a plausible argument can be made that disclosure of the requested records would serve the public interest by shedding light on the school's hiring practices.  But the school district must also examine whether disclosure could tend to identify any rejected candidates, whose personal privacy interests are more than minimal.  Although I am not in a position to know whether disclosing the information you seek could be used to identify any rejected candidate, one study has shown that 87% of the U.S. population is identifiable by three items alone:  date of birth, gender, and zip code: