District 211 settles transgender discrimination lawsuit

After nearly 4½ years, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 is free of both legal action and temporary compromises on the issue of transgender students' access to locker rooms after the board of education Thursday approved the settlement of a now former student's discrimination lawsuit.

By a 5-2 vote, the district has agreed to pay $150,000 to Nova Maday of Palatine and her legal representatives at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to settle her 2017 state lawsuit claiming she was discriminated against for having her use of the girls locker room at Palatine High School restricted.

Board members Mark Cramer and Pete Dombrowski expressed slightly different reasons for their votes against the settlement, but they generally cited the uncertainty of unintended consequences - particularly when pending cases before the Supreme Court hold the potential of further defining or changing federal law on this issue.

Maday, who identifies as female, expressed her feelings of vindication last November when board members also voted 5-2 to no longer require that transgender students alone had to use the privacy stalls made available for all students in locker rooms.

The new policy took effect in early January, but Maday's discrimination lawsuit remained pending in court.

"It was very painful to be treated differently because I am transgender, and to have my identity as a girl challenged by the district," Maday said in a statement released after the board's vote. "I just wanted to be treated like any other girl. My hope is that the new D211 policy truly means that no student has to face this kind of treatment in the future."

District officials also released a statement addressing both the recent policy change and settlement of the lawsuit.

"The district felt that greater understanding of transgender identity had advanced for the better within our immediate communities and in society, and that it was time," the statement reads. "Total legal costs for the combination of complaints (since 2015) fall slightly below $500,000. To spare further expense and use of resources, and since both parties endorse the policy that provides for the access sought in the original complaint, the district agreed to settle and resolve this legal dispute."

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