Judge Allows Students and Parents to Challenge ACLU Attempt to Usurp Privacy Rights

An Illinois state judge is allowing Students and Parents for Privacy, a group of more than 100 concerned parents and students from Chicago’s northwest suburbs, to intervene in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that threatens the privacy of thousands of Illinois students. The Thomas More Society represents the student-parent association in the ACLU’s attempt to misuse non-discrimination provisions of the Illinois Human Rights Act to dismantle student privacy at Township High School District 211. locker room

The school district, which serves Palatine, Illinois, gained national attention in 2016 when administrators granted a male student access to girls’ locker rooms because he identified himself as a transgender girl. The Thomas More Society filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Students and Parents for Privacy. Now a new lawsuit has been filed in Cook County, Illinois, pitting a transgender girl (Nova Maday) against the District because, while the District allowed Maday access to a girls’ locker room, it conditioned the access, requiring Maday to agree to use a privacy curtain in the locker room to robe and disrobe. Maday will not accept this condition, asserting that it is a “denial of equal access” which is “stigmatizing” and a “deprivation of personal dignity.”

On January 17, 2018, the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois County Department – Chancery Division granted the student-parent group’s request to proceed after the group filed an emergency motion to intervene and a motion to dismiss the case, Maday v. Township High School District 211.

Thomas Olp, Senior Counsel for the Thomas More Society, explained that the ACLU assertions would invalidate an explicit privacy facilities provision in the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/5-103(B). “The ACLU takes the position that restricting locker room access to either all girls or all boys unlawfully discriminates against a student whose ‘gender identity’ (female) is different than her ‘sex’ (male),” said Olp.

“But the Act specifically says that when it comes to privacy facilities like restrooms and locker rooms, it is perfectly lawful for a secondary school to engage in sex discrimination in requiring the two sexes (there are only two – male and female) to use separate restrooms and locker rooms. In fact, we believe this discrimination is required, given that many other laws require separate bathroom facilities. Privacy for dressing and performing bodily functions has always been protected this way, and the Act says the same thing,” said Olp. “The ACLU is arguing that the Legislature’s intent on this score should be ignored so that someone’s gender identity can be confirmed, but the Act simply does not require this. It’s bad policy too, and probably questionable therapy, because, from what I read, the vast majority of young people who experience gender dysphoria end up re-affirming their sex. What the ACLU wants from the court should be sought from the Legislature because the court doesn’t have the power to nullify the Act’s privacy facilities exemption.”

Olp added, “There is a big push these days to fight sexual abuse and harassment. These are important goals, but they are accomplished in large part when society emphasizes modesty, respect, and privacy in social settings. Our clients believe the ACLU’s attack on privacy in high school locker rooms runs contrary to this emphasis. Young people’s natural modesty and privacy in front of members of the opposite sex should be respected and protected in our high schools. What the ACLU seeks in this case will further erode it. Our families will not tolerate this.”

Read the “Verified Emergency Petition of Students and Parents for Privacy for Leave to Intervene as of Right or Alternatively by Permission, and Memorandum of Law in Support Thereof,” filed in Maday v. Township High School District 211 by the Thomas More Society on behalf of Students and Parents for Privacy on January 11, 2018, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois County Department – Chancery Division here.

Read additional background on the federal Palatine school case here.