Judge may rule in District 211 transgender suit next week

An Illinois judge may decide next Thursday on a Palatine High School transgender student's request for an injunction against the current requirement that she always use a private changing stall within the girls locker room.

Senior Nova Maday said the consideration of the case by Judge Thomas Allen demonstrated during arguments Friday made her hopeful such an injunction might allow her to be treated like all the other girls in her physical education class before she graduates in four months.

Though she'd become mentally prepared for such hearings since filing her lawsuit against Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 in November, Maday said the courtroom of Chicago's Daley Center wasn't the most comfortable of environments.

“All I can say is that it was extremely awkward to be in a room with a bunch of lawyers discussing my body,” Maday said.

Still, she said she understood the arguments were being about transgender people generically and not aimed at her personally.

Though born biologically male, Maday has identified as female through her high school years.

Maday is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, whose spokesman Ed Yohnka said one new argument heard from the school district Friday was that schools had more latitude within the Human Rights Act to discriminate than other organizations.

District 211 officials declined to comment Friday.

Attorneys for the religious freedom organization Thomas More Society and the residents group D211 Students and Parents for Privacy were allowed to intervene in the case on the side of the school district.

Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Thomas Olp said there is a clear exemption in the act that allows the school district to make the distinction as it has.

“It's absolutely clear that the district discriminated on sex, not gender identity,” Olp said.

“They're perfectly within their rights under the exemption. If the legislature wants to change that, let them change it.”

Olp added that it's wrong for people to assume D211 Students and Parents for Privacy has no sympathy for transgender students like Maday.

“None of our clients are hostile to the plaintiff,” he said. “We think she should be accommodated too. The question is how?”

But Maday said she knows the goal of her lawsuit is one many transgender people agree with to legitimize their status in schools.

“From day one, I knew this wasn't just about me but other students who can't fight for themselves,” she said.

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