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Federal Appeals Court Rules in a Favor of Transgender Student Ashton Whitaker

Today, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Ashton Whitaker, a transgender high school student in Kenosha, Wisconsin, finding that he has the right under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to use the restroom that corresponds to his gender identity. The decision is yet another critical judicial victory for transgender rights.

Last July, Whitaker filed a federal lawsuit against the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) after he was denied access to the boys’ restroom. School staff and security were instructed to prevent him from using the boys’ restroom, according to his complaint.

KUSD argued that the harm to other male students using the restroom outweighed any harm to Whitaker. That logic was shot down by Judge Ann Claire Williams of the Seventh Circuit Court.

“The School District argues that the district court erred in finding that the harms to Ash outweighed the harms to the student population and their privacy interests. We disagree… The harms identified by the School District are all speculative and based upon conjecture, whereas the harms to Ash are well-documented and supported by the record.”

Williams further assserted that forcing Whitaker to use the girls’ restroom or the gender neutral restroom violated federal civil rights laws.

“A policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender non-conformance, which in turn violates Title IX,” she wrote for the panel.

HRC congratulates Ash, Pledl & Cohn, S.C., Transgender Law Center and Relman, Dane & Colfax on this important victory.