CHICAGO — A Cook County judge has declined to issue a preliminary injunction in favor of a male high school student who identifies as a girl and wishes to use the girls’ locker room to change for gym class.
Judge Thomas Allen ruled that the Illinois Human Rights Act does not mandate “full and equal access” to school changing facilities as legislators removed that wording in 2010. He noted that the student’s contention that he was not allowed equal access “may be a correct statement, but I cannot ignore the plain language of [the law].”
“This is a balancing act of all balancing acts, but it’s not my role to establish social lines up or down,” Allen stated.
As previously reported, 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.
The school district said that the lawsuit is misleading and does not correctly represent the accommodations that have been offered to Maday.
“The allegations in this lawsuit misrepresent the accommodations extended to this student and District 211’s approach to working with and supporting transgender students,” Superintendent Daniel Cates said in a statement after the legal challenge was first filed. “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.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, he reiterated the sentiment on Thursday, stating that Allen’s ruling already reflects the “important balance” that the district had set to accommodate those who identify as “transgender,” while also “safeguarding student privacy.”
Maday expressed disappointment on Thursday that the court had declined to grant the preliminary injunction.
“I am disappointed with the decision today,” he said. “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.”
However, the Thomas More Society, which had represented a group known as Students and Parents for Privacy—a coalition that had been permitted to intervene in the case—said that the court was right to maintain the privacy of female students by upholding the law.
“Schools should never be forced to give male students unrestricted access to areas where girls are changing clothes. Claiming a female gender identity doesn’t change that,” remarked Chief Counsel Thomas Brejcha.