Transgender student denied unrestricted locker room access

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A judge has denied a suburban Chicago transgender student's request for an injunction that would grant her unrestricted access to the girls' locker room. (WLS)

Transgender student Nova Maday is "disappointed with the decision" a judge made Thursday when considering if she could change in the common area of the girls' locker room or use a private stall. The judge denied a preliminary injunction, meaning Maday must continue to use the private stall in the locker room at Palatine High School while her case moves through the court system.

"To me, this is a simple question - am I going to be treated just like any other girl in my school?" Maday said in statement. "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."

Maday, an 18-year-old senior at Palatine High School, filed the lawsuit last year, alleging that she is being discriminated against under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The ACLU of Illinois is representing her in court.

"We are extremely disappointed in the judge's ruling for Nova, and for her dignity. Not to be fully recognized for the girl that she is," said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois. "We're now being told there is a place where discrimination is permitted, and that is in our public schools. I think that's something, that frankly, ought to alarm people."

In court, Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas R. Allen called the case a "balancing act of all balancing acts." While Maday alleged discrimination, Township High School District 211 attorneys said that, under the law, the school is providing Maday access to the school facility, including the girls' locker room.

"They have allowed access - access, access, access," said Judge Allen, referring to the district's current position. The law "doesn't say full and fair access."

Allen added that he must analyze the case "within the four corners of the statute" and that means the law, the "words put on paper by the legislature."

After court, District 211's superintendent read a statement saying, in part, that the district has an "unwavering commitment to respecting all students while also safeguarding student privacy."

"We are committed to providing supportive access to our school locker rooms, access that respects and balances the identity and privacy interests of all of the nearly 12,000 teenagers in our high schools," said Superintendent Daniel Cates. " Judge Allen's decision today upholds this important balance."

District 211 has support as well, including the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, which is representing a group of parents who would rather have transgender students use a third, separate locker room. "I'm relieved and hopeful in the future that privacy will be protected for all students," said Beth Kalopisis, a parent and member of D211 Parents and Students for Privacy.

Legally, the case is not finished yet. Yohnka of the ACLU said lawyers will talk to Maday and her family about all their options. The next court hearing is scheduled for February 8th.

"We will consider our next steps," Yohnka said. "We believe, as we move through this process and develop additional evidence, that we will prevail."

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educationtransgenderhigh schoolbathroomcourtu.s. & worldIllinois
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