Seventh Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Landmark Education Ruling That Title IX Protects Trans Students

Vox reports:

A single student’s case has turned into a massive legal decision for all transgender Americans. On Tuesday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Kenosha Unified School District in Wisconsin violated the rights of a trans student, Ash Whitaker [photo, with his mother], when it refused to let him use the boys’ bathroom.

According to the court, Whitaker is likely to win upon a full review of the case (instead of the current review of a lower court’s preliminary injunction) on his claim that the school’s actions violated Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination in schools based on sex, and the Equal Protections Clause of the 14th Amendment. So it upheld a lower court’s injunction forcing the school to let Whitaker use the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity.

In the decision, a three-judge panel from the Seventh Circuit Court concluded that the school district “has failed to provide any evidence of how the preliminary injunction will harm it, or any of its students or parents” — a rebuke of the prevalent myth that letting trans people use the bathroom for their gender identity will hurt others.

From the Transgender Law Center:

With this decision, the Seventh Circuit (which covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana) is the first federal appeals court to find conclusively that a transgender student has the right to be treated in accordance with the student’s gender identity at school under both Title IX and the Constitution. Notably, it is also the first decision to reach that conclusion without reliance on the Obama Administration’s guidance on schools’ Title IX obligations to transgender students, which the Trump Administration rescinded in February.

“I am thrilled that the Seventh Circuit recognized my right to be treated as the boy that I am at school,” said Ash. “After facing daily humiliation at school last year from being threatened with discipline and being constantly monitored by school staff just to use the bathroom, the district court’s injunction in September allowed me to be a typical senior in high school and to focus on my classes, after-school activities, applying to college, and building lasting friendships.

“As I look forward to college next year, I hope my case will help other transgender students in Kenosha and elsewhere to just be treated the same as everyone else without facing discrimination and harassment from school administrators.”

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court returned a similar case back to the Fourth Circuit appeals court for further consideration in light of the government’s rescission of that Title IX guidance. In that case, G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, the Fourth Circuit had relied on the guidance to find that a school district violated Title IX by excluding Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy, from boys’ restrooms at his Virginia high school. Today, the Seventh Circuit found that, even absent guidance from the federal government, “[a] policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender nonconformance, which in turn violates Title IX.”

  • Moebym Reborn

    Nice to see good news for a change.

    • Dave604

      I enjoy a ray of hope amongst all the crap news. What a brave kid!

  • Paula

    Texas is still gonna be Texas, though. 😔😔😔

    • Xuuths

      Let them secede — after they pay what they owe the rest of us. Takers.

      • Paula

        No, that’s my retirement you are dismissing so easily.

      • Circ09

        Texas has one of the stronger economies in the nation. We don’t take more from the Federal like Alabama.

        • E.J.

          Texas receives between 50 and 60 cents from the federal government for every dollar they pay in taxes. In comparison, North Dakota receives over 7 dollars or each dollar paid. (There is a lot of federally controlled land in North Dakota)

        • That hasn’t been true for many years, Circ. Texas is a taker state now.

      • David

        Texas is one gigantic money pit. Finally getting rid of It would save US taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

        • And if those big government contracts disappeared (which would happen if Texas seceded) it would be Mississippi in about six months. I have relatives who live in an area that is almost entirely NASA contractors. Tons of people who all work off government contracts but talk like libertarians. Fuck ’em. They don’t want big government? Stop giving it to THEM and move those jobs to California or Massachusetts.

  • skyweaver

    Woohoo!!! Great news!!!!

  • Sabazinus

    Amazing

  • JWC

    this should not be consantly before the courts Hopefully this is one of the last

  • Xuuths

    This is awesome! Glad he persisted!

  • joe ho

    Will it survive Gorsuch?

    • Todd20036

      Ah, there’s the rub….

  • Gustav2

    Damn that pesky 14th!!!!!!11!!!!

  • Rebecca Gardner

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. Right now the only thing holding our Republic together and defending our Constitution is the Judiciary. We have to hold onto that until all the traitors in the Executive and Legislative branches are in prison.

    • Ninja0980

      Damn shame Trump is going to do his best to change that.. and that so many on our side don’t understand important the courts are.

      • FAEN

        But her emails 🙄

        • another_steve

          …and she almost fainted getting into the car.

          • FAEN

            While dealing with and not complaining about walking pneumonia.

      • Rebecca Gardner

        I know. All the SJW assholes that couldn’t vote for Hillary did not understand that SCOTUS was at stake and so they fucked this nation for the next 40 years, but hey, I bet they got a lot of likes on Facebook every time they made a post about their sensitivities.

        • Ninja0980

          Not just SCOTUS but the lowers courts such as the 7th, which for all purposes is the last stop for most folks.
          I shuddered to think of what they will look like by the time he is done.

        • “SJW assholes”? This judicial opinion is the definition of social justice. I think we need to stop playing into the conservative narrative that social justice is some sort of evil.

          • It is when you can’t see the difference between Clinton and Trump.

          • That wasn’t what I’d characterize as social justice. “Bernie or Bust” was a combination of apathy and vengeance.

            When people use the term “SJW”, they’re usually referring to civil rights activism. This case was a victory for civil rights.

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        • JCF
    • bambinoitaliano

      Let’s hope RBG is in excellent health.

      • FAEN

        Love her but I wish she had stepped down in 2012.

    • another_steve

      Bravo, Rebecca. Well said.

      The courts, hopefully, will keep us from falling into the abyss.

    • Robincho

      And after that, we STILL have to hold onto it…

    • Of course — that’s why Trump (and the Republicans as a group) hate the very idea of an independent judiciary.

      I can hardly wait for Tony Perkins’ next press release. Sadz for days.

  • FAEN

    Fantastic!

  • Sam_Handwich
    • The_Wretched

      Thanks

  • MaryJOGrady

    Excellent!
    I hope this kills the prospect of a Texas bathroom bill dead, dead, dead.

    • Stogiebear

      Don’t worry. It won’t. There’s money to be made in discrimination and lawsuits — even if you’re losing that money eventually. They’ll just have martyr cred to fundraise off of.

    • coram nobis

      No, they’ll pass it. It’s the kind of legislative masturbation that will impress their voting base back in East Jesus. Question then is how persuasive this decision will be in their Federal district and appellate courts.

  • Leo
    • another_steve

      So well said.

      Donald Trump has turned the Office of the President into a surreal and menacing farce.

  • Sam_Handwich
  • TampaDink

    Excellent.

  • another_steve

    The tears of theofascists so refresh my martini. 🙂

    • MT YVR

      Whenever I frustrate my husband I threaten to shove a glass at his eye.

      I like salt on my glass before I make a cocktail.

  • m_lp_ql_m

    “Evidence? Of course there’s evidence! Just look at the facts: Corinthians II:43 clearly states…” /s

  • j.martindale

    One of those few moments lately that shows the arc of history…

    • another_steve

      I’m an optimist and truly believe that the arc bends toward justice. Ever so slowly. So slowly that at times it’s indiscernible.

      But bend toward justice it does.

  • clay

    In Pennsylvania, a couple of straight cis-male students are suing, claiming that allowing a trans-boy in the locker room is a violation of their privacy. This might divide the lower courts.

    • But they don’t have a problem with other cis-males?

      • clay

        nope.

        • I’d think you’d need a better reason than (not then) eww. At least I hope so.

          • Todd20036

            I’d agree with you from a logical point of view, but a Trumpanzee judge could use the “eww” factor to justify discrimination.

    • j.martindale

      Maybe they should be more concerned about gays in the locker rooms. (snicker.) But that is something the lawyers could bring up, if these jocks are so sensitive about being eyed by someone lustful for their junk.

      • Chucktech

        It’s quite possible, if not probable, that those concernstipated “straight cis-male students” may not be so straight after all…

    • billbear1961

      Snowflakes put up to it by some hateful shits.

      Which Circuit court covers PA?

      Guess it will likely come down to Kennedy, again, assuming he doesn’t retire. If he does, the entire country is SCREWED–the Trumpist coup will be complete, and they’ll control the Judicial branch, too.

      (Nice photo, clay–not that there was anything wrong with the older one!)

  • Nic Peterson

    Congratulations to the brave young man willing to live his truth!

  • ByronK

    Excellent news and congrats to him for fighting it!!

  • billbear1961
  • Bluto

    Hey so-called “christians”, this is what a real parent & unconditional love look like. & a brave young man.

  • clay

    . . . and in other legal news, SCOTUS agrees to take a voter rolls case from Ohio, about the state inappropriately removing names of inactive voters.
    http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/05/court-grants-one-new-case-no-cakes-guns-cell-phones-involved/

    • TuuxKabin

      Good looking new avatar. Passport photo? Goin’ some wheres without us? Perish the thought.

  • Superman

    Mike Pence still doesn’t think it applies to Indiana.

    • Chucktech

      Mike Pence still doesn’t think it applies to Indiana.

  • mjcc1987

    Scott Walker will appeal to the full court with the help and assistance of that old segregationist Sessions. If that doesn’t work, then off to SCOTUS

  • David

    This is even more impressive since 9 of the 12 members of the court are GOP appointees.

    • Ninja0980

      Yes but they’re a mix of pre Federalist Society assholes and post ones, with Sykes leading the charge.

      • coram nobis

        These judges knew a dead parrot when they saw one.

        What the record demonstrates here is that the School District’s privacy argument is based upon sheer conjecture and abstraction. For nearly six months, Ash used the boys’ bathroom while at school and school‐sponsored events without
        incident or complaint from another student. In fact, it was
        only when a teacher witnessed Ash washing his hands in the restroom that his bathroom usage once more became an issue in the School District’s eyes. And while at oral argument, the School District asserted that it had received just one complaint from a parent, this is insufficient to support its position that its policy is required to protect the privacy rights of each and every student … Nonetheless, neither party has of‐
        fered any evidence or even alleged that the School District has
        received any complaints from other students. This policy does nothing to protect the privacy rights of each individual student vis‐à‐vis students who share similar anatomy and it ignores the practical reality of how Ash, as a transgender boy,
        uses the bathroom: by entering a stall and closing the door.
        — decision at 29 (emphasis original)

        • Todd20036

          Maybe it’s just sleeping.

          • Chucktech

            We-he-hell, let’s just wake ‘im up!

          • coram nobis

            It’s bleedin’ demised.

  • CJakes ™

    Well just fantastic!🙌

  • coram nobis

    First words of the decision: “Ashton (“Ash”) Whitaker is a 17-year‐old high school senior who has what would seem like a simple request: to use the boys’ restroom while at school. However, the Defendants, the Kenosha Unified School District and its superintendent, Sue Savaglio, (the “School District”) believe that the request is not so simple …”

    Translation: If you cretins had simply granted the request we wouldn’t have wasted our time, and your taxpayers’ funds.

    There’s more:

    The School District’s arguments miss the point. The dis‐
    trict court was presented with expert opinions that supported
    Ash’s assertion that he would suffer irreparable harm absent
    preliminary relief. These experts opined that use of the boys’
    restrooms is integral to Ash’s transition and emotional well‐
    being …
    * * *
    Further, the School District’s argument that Ash’s harm
    was self‐inflicted because he chose not to use the gender‐neu‐
    tral restrooms, fails to comprehend the harm that Ash has
    identified. The School District actually exacerbated the harm,
    when it dismissed him to a separate bathroom where he was
    the only student who had access. This action further stigma‐
    tized Ash …
    * * *
    The rational basis test, however, does not apply when a
    classification is based upon sex. Rather, a sex‐based classifica‐
    tion is subject to heightened scrutiny, as sex “frequently bears
    no relation to the ability to perform or contribute to society.”

    https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/8601339/Whitaker-7th-Circuit.0.pdf

    • coram nobis

      More useful language for other cases:

      If a state actor cannot defend a sex‐based classification by
      relying upon overbroad generalizations, it follows that sex‐
      based stereotypes are also insufficient to sustain a classifica‐
      tion …
      * * *
      … So, the School District maintains that Ash cannot demonstrate a likelihood of success on his Equal Protection Claim.

      Ash disagrees. He argues that transgender status should be entitled to heightened scrutiny in its own right, as transgender people are a minority who have historically been subjected to discrimination based upon the immutable characteristics of their gender identities. Alternatively, he argues that even if transgender status is not afforded heightened scrutiny in its own right, the School District’s bathroom policy creates a sex‐based classification such that heightened scrutiny should apply.

      There is no denying that transgender individuals face discrimination, harassment, and violence because of their gender identity …

  • Fingers crossed the Kennedy doesn’t retire before this gets to SCOTUS.

    • Todd20036

      Kennedy is iffy. He’s not a liberal.

      • No, he’s not but think what Windsor and Obergefell would have been if someone more like Scalia had been in that seat. (Lawrence was 6-3 so that wouldn’t have mattered, but then the other conservative to vote with the liberals on that was O’Connor who wrote her own decisions so she could pretend she wasn’t reversing her own vote in Hardwick.) Anyway, if he’s replaced with a social conservative and Gorsuch votes anti-lbgt, we are fucked if any lbgt cases get to SCOTUS.

  • bkmn

    Every vote matters because every judge in every court matters. We need to do a better job of reminding people of that, especially in off years.

  • Lars Littlefield

    Very good news!

  • Dagoril

    Wonderful news for Trans people. Wonderful news for LGBT communities across the country. Wonderful news for everyone who values justice and fairness! And the fact that it will piss off Pence since it affects Indiana…well that’s just lagniappe 😉

  • coram nobis

    Apparently the defendants were disingenuous from the start of the case right on through the Circuit oral arguments. The way they jerked everybody around suggests that the defendants might have difficulty explaining their antics to SCOTUS.

    Additionally, at oral argument, counsel for the School District clarified that the only way that Ash would be permitted to use the boys’ restroom would be if he were to present the school with a birth certificate that designated his sex as male. But it is important to keep in mind that the School District has not provided a written copy of the policy. Nor is it clear that one even exists. And, before this litigation, Ash’s mother was never told that she needed to produce a birth certificate. Instead, when she asked the School District to permit him to use the boys’ restroom, the school’s assistant principal told her that Ash could use the boys’ restroom only if his sex was changed in the school’s official records. To do so, Ash would need to submit unspecified legal or medical “documentation.” Despite explaining to the assistant principal that Ash was too young to have sex‐reassignment surgery and presenting the School District with two letters from Ash’s pediatrician, Ash was still not allowed to use the boys’ restroom.

  • Pat

    So happy for this decision and all the trans lives it will affect for the better, and especially for this brave kid and his mother.

  • JCF