Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Lawsuit filed in Palatine transgender case

A transgender girl has filed a lawsuit against Township High School District 211, based in Palatine, Illinois, alleging that Palatine High School, one of five in the northwest suburban district, has in the past denied her use of the girls’ locker rooms during PE classes and thereby hurt her grades and psychological well-being, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The Tribune says Nova Maday, now 18, was allowed to use the girls’ locker room more recently, but only if she changed in an “unspecified private changing area within the locker room,” a requirement that was not made of students who don’t identify as transgender. “I just want to be treated like every other girl in our school,” the paper quoted her as saying in a written statement.

The school district, however, without commenting on the specifics, said the claims alleged in the lawsuit “misrepresent the accommodations extended to this student and District 211’s approach to working with and supporting” transgender students:

The students and staff members in our schools are not divided on this issue. Every day in our schools, transgender students have full access to the bathrooms of their identified gender. Each day, transgender students use the locker room of their identified gender. Some seek more private accommodations, and those are provided as well.

We will vigorously defend and protect compassionate, fair and equitable support for all students, and, at the same time, we continue to defend our supports for transgender students at the federal level. This is our commitment now and throughout whatever challenges are put before us, regardless of agenda or cause.

District 211 was the first in the nation to be found in violation of federal law under Title IX based on a case in 2013 involving this same issue. That case established a national precedent, but many of the issues are so specific to each individual case that establishing a global policy can be a challenge for schools.

Although Ms Maday is diagnosed with gender dysphoria and also suffers from depression, she is still a biological male in terms of anatomy. “We separate these students by biology and anatomy for good reason,” the Tribune quoted Vicki Wilson of D211 Parents for Privacy as saying about this lawsuit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. “Schools have a duty to protect the well-being and dignity of all students.”

In addition to seeking damages for psychological harm caused to Ms Maday, the lawsuit asks the court to order District 211 to allow access to all facilities at its high schools based on each student’s gender identity, not their biological sex.

Allowing access to facilities based on gender identity instead of biological sex would be in line with guidance issued by the administration of Barack Obama but more recently rescinded by that of Donald Trump.

Related cases

A lawsuit that challenged a measure in Frederick County Public Schools allowing students to choose which bathroom to use based on the gender with which they identify, filed in federal court in Maryland, was dismissed without prejudice earlier this month, WTOP News reports.

Because the judge dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, either party can reinstate it at a later date. “We are unaware at this point if the plaintiff is going to do that,” the station quoted Brad Young, president of the county’s board of education, as saying. “Certainly, if they do, the system is ready to defend our policy.”

Voxitatis reported on the lawsuit, filed on behalf of a 15-year-old student at Gov Thomas Johnson High School, whose “personal dignity,” her lawyer said, “is at the forefront of our interests. … It’s a very challenging case. These are important but very difficult issues.”

In New Jersey, student athletes will now be allowed to participate in interscholastic sports contests without having to provide a doctor’s note or any official documentation to prove their gender identity, the HSLive sports website reported.

That’s because the executive committee of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association approved a new policy in mid-November that gives students the right to change their gender simply by notifying their school’s administration.

“We wanted to make a policy that is clear and concise so that anybody reading it would understand what the rights and applications are,” the site quoted NJSIAA attorney Steve Goodell as saying.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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