Court allows Chicago-area families to defend student privacy
CHICAGO – A state court on Wednesday granted the request of an association of concerned students and parents to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that threatens the privacy of thousands of Illinois students. The association, Students and Parents for Privacy, filed a lawsuit in 2016 to protect student privacy at Palatine’s Township High School District 211, which is now the target of the ACLU’s suit.
The families wish to prevent the ACLU from misusing non-discrimination provisions within the Illinois Human Rights Act to dismantle student privacy at the district. Alliance Defending Freedom and Thomas More Society attorneys represent the students and parents.
“Schools must protect the privacy needs of every child, and now these parents and students will have a chance to ensure that the ACLU doesn’t undermine that duty,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeana Hallock. “The Illinois Human Rights Act specifically allows facilities like locker rooms to be reserved for girls only. Asserting a female gender identity doesn’t change the fact that schools should never be forced to give male students unrestricted access to areas where young women are changing.”
“We are pleased that we will be able to represent these families, who don’t want the ACLU to get away with manipulating the language of the law in order to undermine student privacy,” added Thomas More Society Chief Counsel Thomas Brejcha, lead counsel in the case together with Thomas More Co-Executive Director Thomas Olp. ADF attorneys are co-counsel.
As the motion to intervene filed last week in Maday v. Township High School District 211explained, granting what the ACLU is requesting would invalidate the Illinois Human Rights Act’s privacy-facility provision, “which exempts from the IHRA ‘any facility…which is distinctly private in nature such as restrooms, shower rooms, bath houses, health clubs and other similar facilities for which the Department [of Human Rights], in its rules and regulations, may grant exemptions based on bona fide considerations of public policy.’ Protecting the bodily privacy of students who are under the supervision and control of District officials is a bona fide public policy interest, and further is a duty for District officials who are responsible for the students while at school.”
- Pronunciation guide: Brejcha (BREH’-kuh)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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