On January 9, the Kenosha Unified School Board voted 5-2 to settle its lawsuit with former student Ash Whitaker, who sued the school district alleging discrimination on the basis of “sex, gender identity, and transgender status” in violation of Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) by refusing to allow Whitaker to use “the school restrooms corresponding to his gender identity.”
In May, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of Whitaker in a ruling stating “[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 non-conformance, which in turn violates Title IX.” In August, 2017, the school district filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that it overturn the May decision.
The settlement withdraws the school district’s petition and awards Whitaker $800,000, the majority of which will be paid by the school district’s insurer, not taxpayers, who will only be responsible for the $25,000 deductible. $650,000 of the settlement will be used to pay Whitaker’s attorneys, while the remaining funds will be disbursed to Whitaker. According to school district’s attorney, the settlement also permits Whitaker to use the mens’ restroom when returning to the school as an “alumnus or community member,” but does not apply to individuals other than Whitaker.