Ash Whitaker, who graduated from high school this past June, has won his discrimination lawsuit against the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) in Wisconsin, with a settlement of $800,000.
Whitaker, who is now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, attended Tremper High School, where, he says, he was banned from using the boys' bathroom because he's trans, and subjected to daily surveillance and threats of disciplinary action.
Whitaker elaborated that KUSD had proposed all trans students be required to wear bright green labels so as to be easier to monitor. School officials also reportedly refused to use Ash's preferred name and would isolate him from other students while on school trips.
"I am deeply relieved that this long, traumatic part of my life is finally over and I can focus on my future and simply being a college student," Whitaker said in a press release from his representatives in the suit, the Transgender Law Center. "Winning this case was so empowering and made me feel like I can actually do something to help other trans youth live authentically. My message to other trans kids is to respect themselves and accept themselves and love themselves. If someone's telling you that you don't deserve that, prove them wrong."
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that KUSD had unconsitutionally and illegally singled out Whitaker, and explained that "[a] policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity . . . violates Title IX" and that requiring trans students to obey and subscribe "to different rules, sanctions and treatment than non-transgender students" is also against the law.
The decision is historic in that it's the first time a federal court of appeals has found transgender students to be protected under Title IX, Towleroadreports.