CHICAGO — An Illinois teenager who was born male but identifies as female has filed a lawsuit against his school district as he claims that he has been prohibited from using the girls’ locker room for gym class. The district says that the legal challenge does not correctly cite the accommodations that have been offered to the student.
The 18-year-old, who goes by the name Nova Maday, says that he is unhappy with the outcome of talks with Township High School District 211 and asserts that that he has to use either the nurse’s office or a separate single-user locker room at Palatine High School to change his clothes.
“I just want to be treated like every other girl in our school,” Maday said in a statement after filing suit on Thursday. “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. class without having to jump through a bunch of hoops.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Maday sent an email to his teachers in his freshman year to advise that he identifies as a girl.
“Information about me. First, I’m transgender. In case you are not fully sure what I mean by that, I do not identify as male, like I was assigned at birth. Instead, I identify as female,” he wrote. “I would like to state that my chosen name is Nova, and I would ask that you call me by this in class …”
While teachers began calling Mayday by his preferred name and pronoun, he was advised that using the girl’s locker room would not be allowed.
His lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), asserts that because Mayday has had to change in a separate location, he has missed notes on the wall advising where students would be meeting for physical education that day.
“Isolating and singling out Nova from the other girls by forcing her to dress separately for P.E. and requiring her to at times wander the halls looking for where her class was being held were extremely upsetting experiences for Nova,” it reads.
However, the school district says that the lawsuit is misleading and does not correctly represent the accommodations that have been offered to Maday.
“District 211 has provided caring and responsive supports for transgender students who daily use bathrooms and locker rooms of their gender identity in multiple schools,” district Superintendent Daniel Cates outlined in a statement on Friday.
“The allegations in this lawsuit misrepresent the accommodations extended to this student and District 211’s approach to working with and supporting transgender students. 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.”
“The Illinois Department of Human Rights has already dismissed this case, stating there was no evidence of discrimination,” Cates continued. “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.”
As previously reported, Township High School District 211 was previously in headlines over a similar request as an unidentified high school student requested to use the girls’ locker room at at William Fremd High School as he had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
But the district declined, citing the privacy concerns of the female students. It in turn offered a private location to change, but the student rejected the accommodation. He then contacted the ACLU, which filed a federal complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.
The Department of Education responded by opining that the district had to permit the student to use the locker room of his choice due to Title IX requirements. The two sides continued in talks for a number of months, but the district held firm on requiring privacy for female students while offering various options for the transgender student, which were refused.
It said that it desired to “to protect the privacy rights of all students when changing clothes or showering before or after physical education and after-school activities, while also providing accommodations necessary to meet the unique needs of individual students.”
The Department of Education recommended that the district install privacy curtains in the changing area so that he could not see other students changing and female students could not see him. The district installed the curtains, but as negotiations remained impasse, the department gave district officials 30 days to settle the matter under threat of penalty, including the possibility of the loss of $6 million in federal funding.
The district soon voted to allow the accommodation for the student, but not without much objection from parents. In May 2016, 51 families, representing 73 parents and 63 students, sued the Obama administration over the matter, contending that it is unlawfully distorting and redefined the meaning of Title IX, and is forcing its wrongful interpretation on school districts.
“We support providing accommodations to students who request one, but the locker room of the opposite sex is not a reasonable accommodation, nor is it compassionate to their fellow classmates to demand this,” Vicki Wilson of D211 Parents for Privacy told the Chicago Tribune in light of Maday’s lawsuit.