Transgender student sues Illinois district over locker room
PALATINE, Ill. -- A suburban Chicago school district that was the focus of a federal complaint over a transgender student's use of a girls' locker room was sued Thursday by a high school senior who claims being denied such access, an allegation district officials reject.
The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court against Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 by Nova Maday, 18, a senior at Palatine High School. It asks that Maday be allowed to use the girls' locker room to change for physical education classes.
American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois spokesman Ed Yohnka is supporting Maday in her lawsuit.
"I just want to be treated like every other girl in our school," Maday said in a written statement. "Even after the school district agreed to allow another transgender student to use the locker rooms in her school, they have resisted and made things harder for me. I just want to be able to get dressed for P.E. classes without having to jump through a bunch of hoops."
Maday has lived as a girl for most of her high school career and has had to change for gym class in private areas away from the girls locker room against her wishes, according to Yohnka.
"The allegations in this lawsuit misrepresent the accommodations extended to this student and District 211's approach to working with and supporting transgender students," said Superintendent Daniel Cates. "Every transgender student in District 211 who has requested use of the locker room of their identified gender has been offered such access, along with other supports within an individual support plan."
Cates said transgender students who have requested use of the locker room of their identified gender have been offered such access.
"The Illinois Department of Human Rights has already dismissed this case, stating there was no evidence of discrimination," he said. "We will vigorously defend and protect compassionate, fair and equitable support for all students, and, at the same time, we continue to defend our supports for transgender students at the federal level."
The roughly 12,000-student, five-high school district previously allowed a transgender student at a different high school to use the girls' locker room with a private changing station. That followed a 2013 federal complaint and intervention from the administration of then-President Barack Obama.
During the debate over that student's access, District 211 board members decided against a single policy for all transgender students, opting instead to handle each request individually.
But as that debate was going on, Yohnka said school officials were denying Maday's request to use the girls locker room at Palatine High School.
"It's disappointing and it's regrettable that you reach this point with a district again," he said.