Chicago, Illinois, US – An Illinois Human Rights Commission (HRC) recently declared discriminatory a Chicago school district’s policy allowing transgender students to change in locker rooms designated for the opposite sex when those transgender students use a private changing area within the locker room.
Nova Maday, an 18-year-old adult man who was attending Palatine High School, sued Township High School District 211 in November 2017 for the legal right to change in the locker room alongside high school girls and young women. Palatine High School had provided Mr Maday a private stall in which to change, but the youth felt that the arrangement indicated to the other students that he is transgender, which he considered an embarrassing “violation of my privacy.”
Calling it “a balancing act of all balancing acts,” a Cook County judge ruled against Mr Maday in January 2018, finding that Illinois state’s Human Rights Act only requires that he be given access to school facilities.
District 211 Superintendent Daniel Cates praised the judge’s decision at the time for upholding the “important balance” the district had already established for transgender students while simultaneously “safeguarding student privacy.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, which is representing Mr Maday, said the organization was “extremely disappointed in the judge’s ruling for Nova and for her dignity not to be fully recognized as the girl that she is.”
In July 2019, an Illinois HRC ruled in favor of a female student who sued Lake Park Community High School District 108 in Roselle over a policy that requires her to change behind a privacy curtain while accessing the boys’ locker room, despite the fact that she identifies as a boy. “[Mandating] that the [former student] use a privacy curtain when changing clothes in the boys’ locker room is an adverse act and subjects him to different terms and conditions than similarly situated non-transgender males,” the commission found.
Ed Yohnka, the spokesperson for the ACLU, believes the commission’s decision will bolster Mr Maday’s lawsuit, as the weight of the state government is now behind him. “We believe that the Circuit Court will find the commission’s decision to be very persuasive,” Mr Yohnka said.
In recent months, the ACLU of Illinois has also successfully fought to place male inmates who identify as transgender in women’s prison.
In June 2016, current and future students of District 211 and their parents filed a lawsuit challenging the policy, as Women are Human previously reported. District Court Judge Jorge Luis Alonso ruled against them, finding that students do not have a “visual right to privacy” over their “unclothed or partially clothed bodies.”
Those who wish to make their voice heard on the issue of mixed-sex locker rooms in Illinois public schools may use the contact information directly below.
Dr. Carmen I. Ayala
100 N. 1st Street, Springfield, IL 62777
Email form: http://webprod1.isbe.net/contactisbe/
Superintendent of Township High School District 211
Dr. Daniel E. Cates
Email form: https://adc.d211.info/admin-home/
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