In a year that has seen, in many instances, the rights of the LGBTQ community take giant steps backward (after so many forward), it’s nice to read that former Tremper High School student Ash Whitaker got his win. The trans student sued the school district for 1) not allowing him to use the boy’s bathroom and 2) threatening to discipline him if he continued to disobey the school rules.
Tremper High School also refused to call Ash by his preferred pronouns and didn’t allow him to run for prom court. But it’s a big decision to go up against Goliath. When he sued the distract, Ash admitted to feeling isolated, anxious, and depressed.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Ash’s favor in June 2017 (after Ash’s graduation), and the district declined to take the appeal to the Supreme Court because of citing resource concerns. Notedly, they did not once accede that they were in the wrong. A statement from attorney Ronald Stadler says:
“The settlement was driven by the school’s insurance company’s concern over the legal developments. The mounting costs of defending the claim and ultimately a risk of having to contribute toward Whitaker’s significant attorneys’ fees.”
Though the ruling is a win for Ash, it doesn’t apply to subsequent trans kids at Tremper High or any other school in the district, so we have a long way to go…a fact that’s not lost on Ash Whitaker himself:
“My messages to other trans kids is to respect themselves and accept themselves and love themselves. If someone’s telling you that you don’t deserve that, prove them wrong.”
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