Education LGBTQ

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Wisconsin Transgender Student

Last week the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Wisconsin school district violated Ash Whitaker’s civil rights when they prevented the transgender student from using the boys’ bathroom. The court ruled that Whitaker’s civil rights are protected under the sex discrimination ban in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“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,” Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote for the panel.

The 7th circuit court’s decision is precedent setting for the circuit that includes Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights stated that the ruling “sends the strongest possible message on where the federal courts are heading on this issue. As a practical matter, this will probably motivate many school districts across the country to treat transgender students equally.”

President Obama had issued a Dear Colleague letter during his administration, clarifying that education equity under Title IX protects transgender students’ access to whichever restroom corresponds with their gender identity. In February, however, the Trump administration rescinded that assertion, claiming that the Obama administration had not sought proper legal analysis or provided appropriate explanation for why these protections were guaranteed under Title IX.

In March the Supreme Court announced that they would no longer hear the case of transgender student Gavin Grimm, sending the case back to the appeal’s court for further consideration in light of the Trump administration’s decision.

Media Resources: NPR 6/2/17; Buzzfeed News 5/30/17; WISN Milwaukee 5/31/17; Huffpost 5/31/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 2/23/17, 3/6/7