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Palatine Transgender Student Sues School District Over Locker Room Access

CHICAGO (CBS) -- An 18-year-old transgender student is suing her northwest suburban school district for the right to use the locker room of her choice to change for gym class.

CBS 2's Mai Martinez sat down for a candid conversation with Nova Maday.

"I'm just like every other girl. I just want to use the locker room. There's nothing different about me," Maday said.

It has taken Maday years to talk openly about her sexuality, but the transgender Palatine High School senior is suing Township High School District 211 for not giving her unrestricted access to the girls locker room.

"I feel like I'm being told I don't belong," Maday said.

Her fight for equality at her high school began the October of her freshman year, which is when she started living as a girl. Maday says instead of being allowed to use the locker room, school officials said she could change in the nurse's office or a private area.

She said she has never had any of the other girls tell her they are uncomfortable with her changing in the same locker room and, as a result, doesn't understand the motives behind the school district.

In a message addressing the lawsuit, Supt. Daniel Cates defended the school district's stance saying, in part, "The allegations misrepresent the accommodations extended to this student and the District's overall approach to working with and supporting transgender students. District 211 has provided caring and responsive supports for transgender students for years."

The statement went on to say, "The Illinois Department of Human Rights has already dismissed this case, stating there was no evidence of discrimination."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, disagrees.

"Nova, as you saw, is a girl. She is a girl just like every other girl, and it is not appropriate for her school district to create limitations on her simply because she's transgender," said Ed Yohnka, who's with the ACLU of Illinois.

The ACLU is helping Maday with her lawsuit. Two years ago, they were successful in a similar action taken against the same school district involving another transgender student.

Their hope is that Maday will be able to use the locker room, without any restrictions, before she graduates.

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