CHICAGO — A range of experts from Illinois and beyond — with expertise in civil rights, medical care, and the struggles for acceptance as a transgender student — are asking the state appellate court to reverse a decision to single out and limit a female student's use of the girls' locker room because she is transgender. This support for Nova Maday, a senior in District 211 based in Palatine, comes in three "friend of the court" briefs filed Friday. A circuit court judge previously denied Ms. Maday a preliminary injunction to use the locker room because he incorrectly concluded that the Illinois Human Rights Act does not require schools in the state to allow all students equal use of school facilities, including locker rooms. Ms. Maday has appealed the decision to the Illinois Appellate Court and also filed her own brief on Friday.
"It is incredible to see the outpouring of support from all these groups and individuals," said Ms. Maday in response to the filings. "I am grateful for this talented coalition of groups who fight for the rights of people facing discrimination because of their race, gender, disability, and other ways in which they are seen as different — and so many major medical groups join this fight. But the stories of other students is the most moving. To hear how other students have attempted to navigate these issues is really inspiring."
"I am confident that these arguments will be influential with the court."
One brief filed on behalf of Ms. Maday is authored on behalf of twelve ( 12 ) groups that work to advance civil and human rights in Illinois. These groups emphatically reject the notion that Illinois Human Rights Act does not provide students in our state's schools the same protections afforded to employees, tenants, patients, and customers at a restaurant or other clothing store. The groups make clear that interpreting the state's most important tool for fighting discrimination in a fashion that permits discrimination will harm not only students who are transgender, but many other students as well.
This brief is co-signed by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the Association of Latino Men for Action, the Center on Halsted, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, Citizen Action, the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, Equality Illinois, Equip for Equality, PFLAG McHenry, the Prairie Pride Coalition, the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center.
A second brief was filed by eight national and statewide medical organizations. The brief notes that for people who are transgender, social transition is a critical part of medical care. The groups note that equal use of the facilities that match a person's gender identity is a crucial part of medical care for many transgender individuals and argue that acceptance and recognition of this at school is especially important for the health and safety of young people.
The medical groups who signed on to this brief include: the American Medical Association, the American Association of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Nursing, the American Medical Women's Association, the Endocrine Society, the Illinois Psychiatric Society, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Pediatric Endocrine Society.
The final brief was filed by the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance — which works to help schools adopt inclusive policies for all students, including students who are transgender. The Alliance's brief shares the experiences of eight current and recent high school students in Illinois — all of whom are transgender. The individual stories of the eight students reveal the profound impact of schools' treatment of transgender students. Four of the students attended schools — in Evanston, the Western Suburbs, Peoria and Chicago — where students who were transgender are treated with dignity and affirmation. These students express how the confidence that their schools' acceptance gave them made it easier for them to succeed at school, socially and academically. The other four students — from Springfield, Casey, another Western Suburban community and Lockport — report how non-welcoming school policies made it much more difficult for them to succeed at school.
A copy of all the briefs are available at the link: www.aclu-il.org/en/cases/maday-v-district-211 .