Transgender Students Sue School Districts Over Equal Access

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

A Wisconsin school district is being sued by a transgender student who says the district will not let him use the boy's bathroom and that the district continues to use his female birth name, both of which violate federal anti-discrimination laws and the US Constitution.

The Associated Press reports that Ashton Whitaker, a 16-year-old student at Tremper High School, is being represented by the Transgender Law Center and the civil rights law firm Relman, Dane and Colfax PLLC. The attorneys filed the lawsuit against the Kenosha Unified School District in Milwaukee.

Whitaker was designated as a girl on his birth certificate and in middle school began identifying as a boy. Not only has he been denied entree to the boys' bathroom, but he and other transgender students are also monitored by staff members when using the restroom and are required to wear a green wristband so that employees can recognize them. The district has denied that the wristbands have been used.

The monitoring caused Whitaker to reduce his intake of liquids, which provoked a medical issue that made him faint and provoked migraines.

On an orchestra trip to Europe, he was made to share rooms with girls, and he was instructed not to run for prom king but was advised that he could run for prom queen, says the lawsuit. When Whitaker's friends protested, administrators relented.

The attorneys who are bringing the lawsuit to court say the district has violated Title IX, the federal law that prevents prejudice based on a person's sex. They add that the US Constitution's equal protection guarantees have been infringed upon as well.

Wisconsin is one of the states suing President Barack Obama's administration over its pronouncement that public schools must allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

CNN's Emanuella Grinberg quoted Whitaker:

"My peers and many of my teachers know me as a boy, and have been incredibly supportive. But the school administrators have made my life miserable every school day since this spring, when they told me I could no longer use the boys' restrooms, which I'd been using with the support of my classmates for months. I worry about how I'm going to navigate the demands of senior year if I can't even go to the bathroom without worrying that I'm being watched."

Kenosha Unified attorney Ron Stadler stated that when the accurate facts and the correct legal standards are established, the Kenosha Unified School District will be vindicated.

A transgender high school student in Maryland has faced being banned from boys' restrooms and has also filed a lawsuit against his school, report Moriah Balingit and Emma Brown for The Washington Post.

The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, including Maryland, sided with a transgender boy in April. The boy lived in Virginia and sued his school board when he was denied access to the male facilities at his high school. The court supported the Obama administration's position.

The 14-year-old young man, called M.A.B. to protect his privacy, said he was barred from using the male locker room at St. Michaels Middle High in St. Michaels, Maryland.

Jer Welter, an attorney with FreeState Justice, who is representing the student, said the boys' restroom was opened to M.A.B. when the school was notified of the 4th Circuit ruling.

As for Kenosha school district, it has decided to take additional time to evaluate the legal issues that center on the regulation and will not move forward on any policies until "greater legal clarity" has been presented.

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