Wednesday, January 10, 2018

School District Settles Transgender Bathroom Case for $800,000

The school board in Kenosha, Wisconsin, voted to settle its litigation with its former student, Ash Whitaker, who sued the school after it refused to permit his access to the boys' locker room and restrooms because he is a transgender male. Whitaker successfully obtained a preliminary injunction that granted the facilities access he was seeking while his litigation was pending; the decision of the district court in favor on this matter was affirmed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in one of the most important decisions to date on the rights of transgender students under Title IX and the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

Soon thereafter, however, Whitaker graduated from high school and the focus of the case changed from what the school was required to do for him going forward to whether the school was liable for damages because of the discrimination that had already occurred. This aspect of the litigation will now end as well as a result of the $800,000 settlement voted on by the school board this week. $650,000 of that amount will reportedly cover Whitaker's attorneys' fees and costs. School officials told the press that the settlement was not an admission of liability for discrimination but a strategy to avoid the costs of ongoing litigation. Whitaker told the press he was happy to have the litigation behind him so that he could focus on being a college student.