Victor Skinner, EagNews
KENOSHA, Wis. – A transgender Kenosha Tremper High School student is suing the school district because the teen alleges teachers use the wrong name, and administrators won’t allow the biological female to use the boys’ restrooms.
Ashton Whitaker, a 16-year-old biological female who identifies as a male, contends teachers and school officials at Tremper High School violated federal Title IX anti-discrimination laws by allegedly refusing to allow the student to use the boy’s restroom, mirroring similar complaints from transgender students across the nation, Fox 6 reports.
“The complaint alleges that discriminatory actions, including a proposal that all transgender students be made to wear bright green wristbands in order to monitor their restroom use, school administrators’ insistence on using Whitaker’s birth name and female pronouns and the school’s repeated isolation of Whitaker from his peers on overnight school trips,” according to WISN.
Whitaker filed the lawsuit in Milwaukee federal court Tuesday with the help of the Transgender Law Center and the law firm of Relman, Dane and Colfax PLLC.
“My peers and many of my teachers know me as a boy, and have been incredibly supportive,” Whitaker told the news site.
“But the school administrators have made my life miserable every school day since this spring, when they told me I could no longer use the boys’ restrooms, which I’d been using with the support of my classmates for months,” the teen said. “I worry about how I’m going to navigate the demands of senior year if I can’t even go to the bathroom without worrying that I’m being watched.”
The lawsuit follows a kerfuffle with district administrators last spring when Whitaker ran for Tremper High School prom king. School officials allegedly attempted to force Whitaker to run for prom queen instead, but reversed course after students caused an uproar, Fox 6 reports.
The incoming senior alleges that after the prom debacle, he still was not allowed to use the boy’s facilities and school officials threatened him with disciplinary action if he does.
Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi thinks Kenosha schools need to get with the times.
“Transgender youth should have the same opportunity as all other students to go to school and get an education without being singled out for harassment and discrimination by school administrators,” Hayashi told WISN. “It is past time for schools to get in line with the law and treat all their students, including transgender students like Ash, fairly and equally.”
The 36-page complaint filed this week follows a similar complaint filed with the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division in May.
Kenosha Unified School District Chief Communications Officer Tanya Ruder issued a prepared statement to the media about Whitaker’s allegations.
“Kenosha Unified was recently made aware of the lawsuit filed against the District alleging discrimination against a transgender student. The District and its legal counsel are reviewing the complaint and all of the allegations asserted in the complaint. Even a cursory review of the complaint shows that some of the factual allegations are patently false,” Ruder wrote.
“The District does not have a practice or policy requiring any student to wear a wristband for monitoring any purpose or for any reason whatsoever. The District has worked diligently with transgender students and their families to address their unique needs and accommodations, including the family named in the suit.”
The lawsuit comes not long after President Obama issued a decree to public schools with the implied threat of lost federal education funding if they do not comply with his interpretation of Title IX laws, which many legal scholars dispute.
Obama sent letters to every school in the nation with the demand that administrators allow transgender students to use whatever restroom they “identify” with.