by Chris Johnson
May 30, 2017
In another legal decision affirming federal law ensures bathroom access for transgender students, a federal appeals court has determined a transgender student in Wisconsin must be allowed access to restrooms at his high school consistent with his gender identity.
In a 35-page decision, a three-judge panel the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of Ashton Whitaker, a 17-year-old who sued Kenosha Unified School District for requiring him to use a restroom separate from one used by all other students.
Writing for the court, U.S. Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams, an Obama appointee, determined Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, which bars discrimination in schools on the basis of sex, applies to Ash’s situation.
“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,” Williams writes.
Joining Williams in the decision was U.S. Circuit Judge Ilana Rovner, an appointee of George W. Bush, and U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Wood, a Clinton appointee.
The decision upholds a preliminary injunction U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper, an Obama appointee, issued in September requiring Kenosha Unified School District to change its policy.
Ash said in a statement he’s “thrilled” the Seventh Circuit determined that Pepper’s decision should stand as the litigation and his studies continue.
“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,” Ash said.