Transgender teen sues high school for discrimination

Building of Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp of Indiana, photo from
  • A transgender student is suingEvansville Vanderburgh School Corp of Indiana for alleged discrimination over the use of male’s bathrooms.
  • Identified only as J.A.W, the plaintiff’s repeated requests to use the facilities that match his gender were denied. He was instead asked to use the school nurse’s restroom.
  • Legal experts believed that the new complaint was nearly identical to a suit filed by Ashton Whitaker, a transgender student who was also barred by a school from using the boys’ bathroom.
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A transgender student is suing his high school for alleged discrimination over the use of its male bathrooms according the transgender latest news published on IndyStar on February 27.

The legal challenge against Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp, a school district in Indiana, was filed by a high school junior who claimed that his requests for access of the school facilities that match his gender were denied.

Use of the restroom

The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Indiana by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana. The plaintiff, known only as J.A.W., was naturally born a girl, but self-identifies as a boy.

The teenager, in his complaint, said that he was told that he could not use the male restrooms. Instead, he was asked to utilize the bathrooms in the school nurse’s office.

He repeatedly requested the school administrators to grant him permission to use the male bathrooms. However, his requests were denied, which caused him irreparable damage where there was no remedy available by the law.

Citing violations to the 14th Amendment and Title IX of the federal laws, he is seeking a court ruling to direct the school district grant him access to use the bathrooms for boys.

The school district’s spokesperson said that they are reviewing the complaint.

“We believe we have met, and will continue to meet, the requirements of Indiana and federal law as it relates to transgender students,” said Jason Woebkenberg.

Transgender students

The complaint comes at the heels of a suicide of a 15-year-old Evansville student in front of the Central High School. The family reported that he was bullied due to his gender identity.

It also followed closely after a federal court ruled last year in favor of a trans student against the Wisconsin school district with similar bathroom prohibitions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit decided that the school has discriminated against Ashton Whitaker even after they had created a gender neutral facility for him. The case was settled for $800,000 in January.

Another legal expert, Ken Falk, ACLU Indiana, agreed that this new complaint and Whitaker’s case were similar.

A professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, Anthony Michael Kreis, explained in an interview that the school district might be liable for discrimination should the court find the complaint substantial and true.

The 7th Circuit decision made an impact on Indiana’s public schools. The state’s Department of Education claimed that the ruling would be a guide in implementing rules for transgender rights of students in the future.

“They are bound to adhere to the precedent handed down by the 7th Circuit,” Kreis said. “In essence, the Whitaker decision shut the door for schools to treat students differently.”


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