The verdict came in favor of 17-year-old high school senior Ash Whitaker.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that a transgender student, who identifies as male, has the right to use the boys’ bathroom at his Wisconsin high school.
The Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals verdict came in favor of 17-year-old high school senior Ash Whitaker, who was denied access to the boys’ bathroom at Tremper High School citing the policy of Kenosha Unified School District, BuzzFeed News reported.
The appeal court upheld the lower court’s verdict on statutory and constitutional grounds, rejecting the School District’s claim that Ash’s mere presence would invade the privacy rights of his male classmates.
In a 35-page opinion, Judge Ann Claire Williams said that the policy of the School District that asks an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform to his or her gender identity violates Title IX anti-discrimination laws as it punishes the individual for his or her gender non-conformance.
The judge also discarded the School District’s argument about treating all boys and girls the same and not violating Equal Protection Clause pointing to their treatment towards transgender students like Whitaker.
Whitaker complained that the denial of access to the boys’ bathroom was causing him harm, as his attempts to avoid using the bathroom exacerbated his vasovagal syncope, a condition that renders Whitaker susceptible to fainting and/or seizures if dehydrated. He also contended that the denial caused him educational and emotional harm, including suicidal ideations.
The court criticized the school for creating separate bathroom only for Whitaker pointing it only “exacerbated the harm.”
However, this verdict is considered as a great victory for people seeking to advance transgender rights in courts and also a landmark decision on LGBT rights.