Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Trans Student Loses Challenge to Locker-Room Privacy Stall Mandate

Trans Student Loses Challenge to Locker-Room Privacy Stall Mandate

An Illinois judge has ruled against a transgender girl who sued over having to use a privacy stall in the girls’ locker room at her high school.

Nova Maday, a senior in Township High School District 211 in the Chicago suburbs, and her lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that the requirement to use a privacy stall, imposed only on transgender students, constituted discrimination, reports Chicago public radio station WBEZ. The district is involved in another lawsuit, in a federal court, in which a parents’ group is seeking to end the policy of allowing trans students access to facilities matching their gender identity, even with privacy stalls.

Cook County Judge Thomas Allen, in his Thursday ruling against Maday, called the case  the “balancing act of all balancing acts,” according to WBEZ.

He based his decision “on a strict reading of the Illinois Human Rights Act,” to which an amendment governing schools was added in 2010, the station reports. That amendment guarantees access without discrimination in all settings, “but not ‘full and equal access,’” WBEZ notes.

Maday and the ACLU said they were disappointed in the decision. “All I want is to be accepted by my school for who I am — a girl,” Maday said in a statement.

“After years and years of hard-fought efforts to ensure that we have a Human Rights Act that protects against discrimination in the state of Illinois ... we [are] now being told there is a place where that discrimination is permitted, and that is in our public schools,” ACLU of Illinois spokesman Ed Yohnka told WBEZ. “And I think that is something that frankly ought to alarm people.”

Late last month, a federal judge in Chicago refused to block the policy of allowing trans students access even with privacy stalls. Students and Parents for Privacy had sought a permanent injunction against the policy, but U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso said the group had failed to demonstrate that allowing trans students access to facilities comporting with their gender identity had caused any harm. It isn’t his final verdict — he just refused to suspend the policy while the case is being heard — but it does indicate he’s likely to rule against the challenge.

In 2015 a transgender girl in Township High School District 211 sought and was granted access to the girls’ locker room using a privacy stall. The district agreed to the arrangement after the U.S. Department of Education ruled that barring her from the girls’ locker room was discriminatory. She has now graduated and the agreement expired, but the district has continued to allow other students the same access.

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