Transgender student wins appeal in final week of school


The decision of a unanimous three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit keeps in place a district court's preliminary injunction halting enforcement of the Kenosha Unified School District's policy against the student, Ashton Whitaker.

Back in September, a USA district judge ruled that 17-year-old Ashton Whitaker had the right to use the boy's bathroom at his school, Tremper High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Seventh Circuit, which covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and IN, is the first federal appeals court to find conclusively that a transgender student should be treated IN accordance with their gender identity at school under both Title IX and the Constitution. To avoid punishment, Ash tried to avoid using the bathroom at school altogether. Ronald Stadler, a lawyer for the school district, didn't immediately return a message.

The district also argued they had an obligation to protect the privacy interests of their students. Whitaker filed a federal lawsuit challenging his Wisconsin school district's bathroom policy.

LGBT advocates claim that the court's decision is a stunning rebuke to recent moves by the Trump administration to rollback protections for transgender students.

"Indiana schools, and any school in the Seventh Circuit is on notice that the Seventh Circuit is not going to treat their case favorably", Kreis said. Which is to say that a federal court agreed with a lower court ruling that trans people are the ones who are hurt by "bathroom bills", and the argument that it's harmful to let trans people use the bathrooms that match their gender identity is "sheer conjecture". Nonetheless, he said he was thrilled with the decision.

Ashton Whitaker will graduate from Tremper High School in Kenosha this month, but he's been battling the school district since he was a sophomore.

The court held that Whitaker is likely to prevail on her Title IX claim that she is being "sex-stereotyped" as a girl because of her biological status as a female.

"It's nice knowing this will definitely be a beacon for other trans kids and other members of the community to look to as a source for hope", Whitaker said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

The court's ruling is considered by some legal experts to be a semi-watershed step for transgender rights, as it is expected to impact the issue in other school districts nationwide.

Williams said there is much support in federal anti-discrimination law for reading Title IX's prohibition on sex discrimination in education to include disparate treatment of a transgender student.

"I've basically stopped using the bathroom at school altogether, which makes it painful and hard to get through the school day", Whitaker (photo above, with his mother) said last summer when he first sued his school district. The U.S. Supreme Court was set to hear his case but sent it back to the lower court after President Donald Trump's administration revoked guidance from former President Barack Obama directing public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identities.

As BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner noted, the ruling also emphatically rejects the transphobic (and unfounded) concerns about "safety" and "privacy" advanced by the Kenosha Unified School District, applying, for the first time, heightened scrutiny to policies that regulate a student's access based on their gender identity.