A federal appeals court on Tuesday
unanimously sided with a transgender teen who is seeking access to
the bathroom of his choice at his Wisconsin high school.
Senior Ashton Whitaker, 17, sued
Kenosha Unified School District's policy of restricting transgender
students to using separate bathrooms from their peers. A lower court
in September ordered the school district to stop enforcing the
A three-judge panel of the Seventh
Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court's ruling, saying
that Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, which bans sex
discrimination in public schools, applies in the case.
“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,” wrote Circuit
Judge Ann Claire Williams in a 35-page ruling. “Providing a
gender-neutral alternative is not sufficient to relieve the School
District from liability, as it is the policy itself which violates
The decision sets a precedent in
Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, the three states the court covers.
Ash, who graduates this weekend,
praised the decision in a statement.
“After facing daily humiliation at
school last year from being threatened with discipline and being
constantly monitored by school staff just to use the bathroom, the
district court’s injunction in September allowed me to be a typical
senior in high school and to focus on my classes, after-school
activities, applying to college, and building lasting friendships,”
A lawyer for the Kenosha Unified School
District told The
Washington Post that his client had yet to decide whether it
would appeal the ruling.