Judge to rule on transgender locker room policy in suburban district

PALATINE, Ill. -- A transgender student in the Palatine School District who was banned from the girls locker room appeared in court Friday but will  have to wait another week for a decision on whether she can change with the other girls.

Judge Thomas Allen said he will issue his opinion next week.

His questions from the bench focused on the issue of “anatomy” versus “gender”  and how the law should view each – both in terms of policy and people.

Nova Maday, a high school student who was born as a boy, but identifies as a girl.

“It’s caused a lot of anxiety and depression,” Maday said.  “There were days when I could barely make it through school because I wasn’t able to change in the locker room.”

Maday says she’s feels emotional and mental stress  under the weight of what she says is a policy of segregation at her high school.

For most of her high school career, the 18-year-old transgender student has identified as a female, but her high school in Palatine has denied her access to the girl’s locker room where students change for gym classes.

The school district has made her change in a special room.

“They’re saying they care for all of their students and they’re not giving me the accommodations that are equal and to be treated like every other girl,” Maday said.  “So it just feels like I’m being segregated by the district.”

That alleged segregation is the subject of a lawsuit that Maday and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed against Palatine School District 211.

Vicki Wilson of Palatine’s parents for privacy says she’s uncomfortable with the idea of a transgender student changing in front of her children.

“This is about public policy in our public schools for minor children,” Wilson said. “And the only way to create a public policy that is equal, if we want equality, that is equal is to adopt an objective standard and that is anatomy. Locker rooms are based on anatomy: nothing more, nothing less.”

Lawyers asked about legal term “balance of harms,” should the comfort of the majority outweigh the civil rights of a single student.

Judge Allen had pointed questions for both sides and said he wouldn’t issue a ruling today. “I think that this is the balancing act of all balancing acts,” he said.

The judge will announce his ruling next Thursday on whether the school district can keep its policy or will be forced to suspend it.