Dist. 211 transgender student denied unrestricted locker room access

A Cook County judge Thursday denied a Palatine High School transgender student's request for an injunction against Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 that would grant her unrestricted access to a girls locker room, at least temporarily.

Senior Nova Maday, 18, sought the injunction to lift the district's requirement she use a private changing area inside the girls locker room during her final semester at the school.

"I am disappointed with the decision today," Maday said in a statement released through her legal representatives at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. "To me, this is a simple question - am I going to be treated just like any other girl in my school. All I want is to be accepted by my school for who I am - a girl - and be able to take gym and use the locker room to change clothes like the other girls in my class."

John Knight, LGBTQ & HIV project director for the ACLU of Illinois, also responded in a statement after Judge Thomas Allen's ruling.

"Clearly, we are disappointed in this decision," he said. "We continue to believe that the school is wrong to discriminate against our client. There is no exception under our nondiscrimination laws that allows a school to treat transgender students differently because of lack of understanding or discomfort about transgender people."

ACLU of Illinois spokesman Ed Yohnka said the ruling did not address any discrimination Maday might be experiencing. He said the ruling is based on an incorrect interpretation of the Illinois Human Rights Act.

"That interpretation ought to alarm people and make them concerned," Yohnka said.

But District 211 Superintendent Dan Cates saw Thursday's ruling as an acknowledgment of the district's efforts to be supportive of its students while balancing their rights to privacy.

"We are committed to providing supportive access to our school locker rooms, access that respects and balances the identity and privacy rights of all of the nearly 12,000 teenagers in our high schools," Cates said. "Our practices welcome transgender teens into the locker room of their identity with an agreement that they change or shower in the locker room privacy stalls. Judge Allen's decision today upholds this important balance."

Knight said ACLU officials would be consulting with Maday to decide how to move forward.

Though Maday is now less than four months from graduation, she's previously said that she is interested in continuing the lawsuit even if it only helps students who follow her. Maday was identified as male at birth, but has identified as female during her high school years.

Earlier this month, an injunction in a federal lawsuit against District 211 sought by the citizens group D211 Students and Parents for Privacy was similarly denied. That injunction would have denied transgender students access to the locker rooms and restrooms of the gender they identify as.

Thomas More Society, a religious freedom organization representing D211 Students and Parents for Privacy, also received permission to intervene in Maday's state lawsuit on the side of the school district.

The next hearing in the lawsuit has been scheduled for Feb. 8.

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