Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upholds ruling protecting transgender student from discrimination

MADISON — This afternoon, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit granted a preliminary injunction in favor of a transgender student, Ash Whitaker. Whitaker brought the suit after his school in Kenosha, Wisconsin barred him from using the boy’s restroom.

In his lawsuit, Whitaker and his attorneys argue that the school’s blatant discrimination is a violation of both Title IX of the Civil Right Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. While this is not the final ruling, today’s decision is a positive development in the case, with the panel writing that Whitaker is likely to prevail on both the Title IX and Equal Protection claims, which would have an impact on transgender students across the state.

Megin McDonell, executive director of Fair Wisconsin, released the following statement regarding today’s development:

“No one should ever be discriminated against simply because of who they are, especially vulnerable children. The fact is that transgender students are more susceptible to discrimination and violence, making it difficult for many of them to succeed in school. Today’s decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is a major step in protecting these students from discrimination, and it will help all Wisconsin students obtain their educations in safe environments that will help them succeed.

“Ash’s story and the discrimination he faced from his own school serve as a another reminder that Wisconsin must update its nondiscrimination laws to protect transgender individuals. Currently, Wisconsin does not provide any nondiscrimination protections to transgender people, meaning individuals like Ash are not fully protected from discrimination in  employment, housing and public services simply because of their gender identity. This is wrong. We hope that lawmakers will take action to ensure everyone in Wisconsin will be treated fairly and equally.”