Transgender teen wins appeal to use men’s bathroom

KENOSHA, Wisc. --  A transgender student who now identifies as a male can use the boy's bathroom at his high school in Wisconsin.

According to the Transgender Law Center, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal unanimously rejected an argument by the Kenosha School District that said allowing Ashton Whitaker to use the boy's restroom would harm other students.

The Seventh Circuit, which covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, is the first federal appeals court to find conclusively that a transgender student should be treated in accordance with their gender identity at school under both Title IX and the Constitution.

All three judges held that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protect transgender students from discrimination.

They also said harm to other students is speculative, while harm to Whitaker is well documented.

Before the decision, Ashton used the boys’ restrooms for the first seven months of his junior year without incident. After that, school administrators intervened, threatened him with disciplinary action, and subjected him to constant surveillance.

Ashton tried not to use the bathroom at school in order to avoid punishment. As a result of being discriminated against on the basis of his gender, he suffered serious depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and other physical and educational harms.

Ashton says he was grateful to have a normal senior year. He is graduating this year, but says he's happy to make a difference for students who share similar experiences.

"As I look forward to college next year, I hope my case will help other transgender students in Kenosha and elsewhere to just be treated the same as everyone else without facing discrimination and harassment from school administrators," he said in the statement.