Earlier this week, a transgender teen who was born female but now identifies as male was awarded nearly a million dollars in a settlement following a discrimination lawsuit against a school board in Wisconsin. Apparently, they were being sued because school officials repeatedly used the wrong gender pronoun and denied the biological female access to the boy’s restroom. No evidence, however, was ever reportedly provided.
Specifically, Wisconsin’s Kenosha Unified School Board recently agreed to pay $800,000, $650,000 of which will go towards legal fees, to settle a lawsuit that was filed against them by Ash Whitaker, an 18-year-old transgender teen and former student at Tremper High School, about a year ago. According to Whitaker’s lawsuit, employees with the school district allegedly engaged in a “series of discriminatory and highly stigmatizing actions” against the teen because they identify as transgender.
“The actions…have included…denying him access to boys’ restrooms at school and requiring him to use girls’ restrooms or a single-occupancy restroom [and] directing school staff to monitor his restroom usage and to report to administrators if he was observed using a boys’ restroom,” explained Whitaker’s lawyer in the now-settled lawsuit against the school board.
On top of that, school officials were also accused of “intentionally and repeatedly using his birth name and female pronouns; instructing guidance counselors to issue bright green wristbands…[to] transgender students at the school to more easily monitor and enforce these students’ restroom usage; requiring him to room with girls on an orchestra trip to Europe; initially denying him the ability to run for junior prom king.”
Unsurprisingly, Whitaker was pleased with the settlement. “I am deeply relieved that this long, traumatic part of my life is finally over and I can focus on my future and simply being a college student,” celebrated the teen in a recently released statement.
“Winning this case was so empowering and made me feel like I can actually do something to help other trans youths live authentically,” added Whitaker, noting, “my message 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.”
Whitaker’s lawyer Joseph Wardenski added, “this settlement sends the clear message to all school districts that discriminating against transgender students is against the law and harms students who simply want to go to school. We are pleased that KUSD decided not to endlessly drag this case through the courts any further, to compensate Ash for the concrete and avoidable harms he suffered and to finally allow Ash to move on from this painful chapter of his life.”
The school officials, however, have emphatically insisted that there was nothing wrong with the way they treated Whitaker. In a statement released shortly after the case was settled, Ronald Stadler, the attorney who represented the school district in the case, did his best to make this explicitly clear. “KUSD has maintained all along that Whitaker was being treated entirely consistent with a procedure that, at the time the decision was made, was entirely legal under the law,” began Stadler.
“[Whitaker’s] claimed fees were $1.7 million, so we estimated if we went up to the Supreme Court, and/or back down to trial court to try the case and go through anything, that their fees would be somewhere between $4 million and $5 million,” he continued, noting, “so, it becomes a real economic decision in terms of balancing risks and the downside of being given an adverse decision.” Before concluding, he added, “the District strongly denied such allegations and at no point in the litigation did Whitaker submit evidence to substantiate those disputed claims.”
The school officials in Kenosha aren’t the only ones to recently settle a transgender discrimination lawsuit. Back in May 2017, employees with the Gresham-Barlow School District in Oregon settle a similar lawsuit. Specifically, they agreed to pay $60,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit after they were sued by Leo Soell, a transgender 5th-grade teacher, for repeatedly using the wrong gender.
The authoritarian left must not be allowed to use the government to compel people to use certain words. Hopefully, when faced with a situation similar to what the Kenosha Unified School Board and the Gresham-Barlow School District experienced, other schools push back and refuse to settle.