KENOSHA, Wis. — A transgender student heads back to high school in Kenosha with the court’s permission to use bathrooms consistent with his gender identity.
U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper’s move Tuesday is the second legal victory in as many days for Ashton Whitaker. The Tremper High senior has gone to court with accusations that the school district discriminated against him.
Pepper issued a temporary injunction barring the district from enforcing its policy prohibiting Whitaker from using the boys’ bathroom while his lawsuit progresses through the courts. On Monday, Pepper rejected a motion by the school district to dismiss the case.
“There’s no question that Ash has already suffered harm and has had physical repercussions from the policy as well as emotional repercussions,” said Pepper, who challenged the district’s argument that its local school board should determine its own policies.
An attorney representing Whitaker and his mother, Melissa, said he was pleased by the ruling. The attorney argued Tuesday that failure to impose the injunction would cause Whitaker irreparable harm. He cited affidavits saying his client was already suffering from anxiety, depression and other disorders as a result of his gender dysphoria.
The school district’s attorney, Ronald Stadler, says it will appeal both of Pepper’s rulings. He took issue with the plaintiffs’ suggestion that a student has a “unilateral right to declare one’s sex.”
“There is simply no support in the law for that proposition,” he said.