A final victory for the student. | Photo: YouTube/ABC News
A Wisconsin school district is paying $800,000 to settle a transgender student’s lawsuit.
Ash Whitaker, a former Tremper High School student, sued the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) in July 2016 due to their bathroom policies.
Last May, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit sided with Whitaker. Not long after, he graduated, having been granted the right to use the boy’s restroom his senior year.
Prior to that, he faced surveilance and disciplinary action.
On Tuesday (9 January), KUSD voted 5-2 on the settlement. Beyond the money, the settlement also includes the district withdrawing their appeal to the US Supreme Court.
Of the $800,000 the district is paying, $150,000 will go to Whitaker. The remaining $650,000 pays Whitaker’s attorneys’ fees, according to BuzzFeed.
‘The precedent in the Seventh Circuit is definitive: schools cannot single students out because they are trans. Period,’ said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center.
The Transgender Law Center was one of Whitaker’s counsels, alongside Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC.
Joseph Wardenski of the civil rights law firm stated: ‘This settlement sends the clear message to all school districts that discriminating against transgender students is against the law and harms students who simply want to go to school.
‘We are pleased that KUSD decided not to needlessly drag this case through the courts any further, to compensate Ash for the concrete and avoidable harms he suffered, and to finally allow Ash to move on from this painful chapter of his life.’
Whitaker echoes these sentiments.
‘I am deeply relieved that this long, traumatic part of my life is finally over and I can focus on my future and simply being a college student,’ he said.
He currently attends University of Wisconsin-Madison with a plan to major in biomedical engineering.
‘Winning this case was so empowering and made me feel like I can actually do something to help other trans youth live authentically. My message to other trans kids is to respect themselves and accept themselves and love themselves. If someone’s telling you that you don’t deserve that, prove them wrong.’
KUSD did not immediately respond to GSN’s request for comment.
H/t: BuzzFeed News
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