Two Transgender Students File Federal Lawsuits Against Schools Over Bathroom Policy

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By Nahema Marchal | 10:25 am, July 21, 2016

Two transgender high school students in Maryland and Wisconsin have filed federal lawsuits against their respective schools, alleging they were denied access to the facilities of their choice, thereby violating their civil rights under Title IX the Washington Post reported.

The lawsuits were filed by two transgender boys: a 14-year-old from Talbot County and a 16-year-old rising high school senior, Ash Whitaker from Kenosha, Whitaker made headlines recently after being told by school administrators he could not run for Prom King,  because he was born female. The district eventually reversed its decision, after 70 students staged a sit in.

These suits come only months after the Obama administration issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools directing them to allow transgender students to use the facilities — bathrooms and locker rooms — corresponding to their chosen gender identity and to address them by their preferred pronouns, or face funding cuts.

The guidance has drawn consistent backlash ever since, with a total or 21 states suing the Obama administration over the directive, claiming  it has turned workplaces and educational institutions across the country “into laboratories for a massive social experiment” and running roughshod over “basic privacy rights.”

Both complaints allege that schools’ administrators have stigmatized and treated plaintiffs differently from other students because of their sex — in the first case, by barring the student from using the boys’ locker room, which caused him to be late to PE classes; and in the second case, by instructing him to use single-occupancy or girls restrooms in the school’s office, and making him and other transgender students wear green wristbands to clearly monitor and enforce bathroom usage, resulting in a great deal of psychological distress.

This is the latest in a string of lawsuits addressing how schools and other public institutions treat transgender students. In May, an Oregon transgender high school teacher received a $60,000o settlement for emotional distress after the teacher complained of alleged harassment by co-workers. In this case, the school district also agreed to make sweeping changes on campus, including creating clear policies about transgender teachers and adding gender neutral bathrooms to all schools.

Wisconsin is among the 21  states suing the government over the new directive.