Trans student sues school district for not allowing him into the girls' bathroom

Students walk past a protest sign on a bathroom which helped lobby for the first gender-neutral restroom in the Los Angeles school district at Santee Education Complex high school in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 18, 2016.
Students walk past a protest sign on a bathroom which helped lobby for the first gender-neutral restroom in the Los Angeles school district at Santee Education Complex high school in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 18, 2016. | Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

A male middle school student who identifies as a girl filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing his school district of violating Title IX civil rights law, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, by not allowing him to use the girls' bathroom. 

The seventh-grade student is identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit against the Elkhorn Area School District in Wisconsin. The filing also accuses the district of violating the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. 

Superintendent Jason Tadlock told The Christian Post on Wednesday that the school district cannot comment at this time because the pending investigation involves a student.

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The 31-page legal document was filed on March 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

The complaint states that the student told school officials in the fall of 2022 that he identifies as a girl. 

Jane Doe's family contends that he began experiencing gender dysphoria in the third grade but did not "come out" at home and school until 2022. 

After informing school officials of his preferred gender identity, the middle school reportedly placed the teenager on a "Gender Support Plan" that required him to use the faculty restrooms instead of the girls' bathroom. 

Joseph Wardenski, one of the family's attorneys, stated that faculty restrooms are too far from the student's classes compared to the girls' bathroom. He alleges the student experienced "distress" from not being treated the same as the girls at school. 

"She uses a traditionally female name, Jane, instead of her traditionally male birth name," Wardenski said about the student in a statement published by WPR. "She uses the pronouns she, her, and hers, which are pronouns typically used by women and girls. Because Jane is a girl, she wishes to be treated like every other girl at school."

Wardenski was one of the attorneys involved in a similar case concerning the Kenosha Unified School District. In 2017, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the district violated Ashton Whitaker's rights by requiring her to use the girls' restroom. 

Whitaker is a girl but wanted to use the boys' restroom because she identifies as a male. The appeals court affirmed a lower court ruling against the school, arguing that Whitaker could claim discrimination under Title IX. 

Attorneys for the Elkhorn Area School District student argue that the district knew about the Kenosha case, citing a July 2023 school board meeting.

One of Jane Doe's other attorneys, Victoria Davis Davila, who was also involved in the Kenosha case, told WTMJ-TV that the suit involving Whitaker "held that our students are able to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity." 

During the July 2023 meeting, Superintendent Tadlock stated that students would "never" be required to share a bathroom with someone who identifies as the opposite sex, as WTMJ-TV reported. After the meeting, Jane Doe's parents requested their son be allowed to use the girls' bathroom, which the school denied. 

"We are bringing this lawsuit because our daughter has the right to be treated like every other girl at school. No one should ever be discriminated against for who they are, not at work, and especially not at school," the girl's father stated in a press release provided to WTMJ-TV. 

The outlet reported that the lawsuit has drawn mixed reactions from members of the Elkhorn community, with one parent declaring that he would pull his daughter out of school if she had to share a locker room with a boy. The father, Oscar Garcia, previously attended Elkhorn Area Middle School. 

"You're right to do that doesn't mean more than anyone else in the locker room to feel safe," Garcia said to WTMJ-TV about boys who identify as female entering girls' spaces.

In 2021, a school district in Virginia paid out $1.3 million in attorney fees and other costs to settle a lawsuit filed by a trans-identified student who was prohibited from using the boys' bathroom. 

Earlier this month, women's sports advocate Riley Gaines joined 15 other female athletes in filing a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletics Association. The Independent Council on Women's Sports announced that it was funding the suit on behalf of the athletes.

Gaines and the dozens of female athletes involved in the suit accused the NCAA of violating Title IX civil rights law by forcing them to compete against and share a locker room with men. The lawsuit highlighted Gaines' story of being forced to compete against Lia Thomas during the 2022 National College Athletics Association championships. 

Thomas is a man named Will who competed on the men's swim team at the University of Pennsylvania for three seasons before he began identifying as a woman and started swimming competitively on the women's team. According to Gaines, the NCAA forced female athletes to compete against and undress in a locker room with Thomas, whose male genitalia was exposed. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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