The family of trans high school student Nicole Maines was awarded a $75,000 settlement on Wednesday in a lawsuit against the Orono, Me. school district, which Maine says violated her human rights by requiring her to use a single-stall staff restroom at school, reports the Associated Press.
The young woman, now 17, with the support of of her parents and twin brother, first sued the Orono school district in 2009, two years after she was first told to stop using the girl's restroom as a fifth-grade elementary school student. She and her family claimed that, under the Maine Human Rights Act, not allowing Maines to use the girl's restroom amounted to discrimination.
Over the next five years, the Maines family would lose a lower court case, but eventually pursue Nicole's case all the way to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
"The question was, could [her father and I] say, 'Sorry, Nicole. You just don't have rights like the rest of the people do, so we just have to sit back and take it?'," Nicole's mother Kelly Maines explained in a January press conference reported by local news station WMTW in the video below. "Or was it, 'Look, this is a long process, you gotta go through it, [and] at the end we may win, we may lose. But at least you know you stood up for your rights?'"
Nicole's victory, first announced in January, marks the first time a U.S. state's high court has ruled that a trans person should use the bathroom of their affirmed gender, notes the AP.
Within the same week Maines learned of her settelment amount, the U.S. also saw the Department of Education clarifying its stance to confirm that elementary and secondary schools should allow trans students to engage in single-gender activities, facilities, and sports that concord with their gender identity.
Advancements like these, Nicole told WMTW, are what will help trans students gain equal access to education. This is why she and her family chose to remain in the public spotlight — and why the young woman was recently honored by Glamour magazine, among 49 other "hometown heroes," as a "Woman of the Year."
Hear more from the Maines family's January interview below.