The U.S. court of appeals for Seventh Circuit has ruled in favor of a transgender student whose school district denied him the right to use the boys' restrooms and locker rooms. The ruling comes the same week that Ashton Whitaker, 17, graduates from George Tremper High School in Kenosha.

Transgender student forbidden from using boys' bathroom

Ashton had previously been using the boys restroom for six months when the Kenosha School District implemented a new policy forbidding him from doing so. He was then forced to use a single bathroom that was far from his classes and his usage was monitored which affected his health and caused him to miss class time.

The school district argued that the policy was meant to protect the privacy of its students. The court disagreed by noting that the policy change happened not because of student complaints, but because a teacher became aware:

"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." (NBC News).

The three-panel court upheld a September ruling that granted Whitaker an injunction against the policy and ensured that he could use the bathroom that matched with his gender identity. The court also noted that no one was being put at risk, and that the district violated the students' civil rights as well as federal law.

"By definition, a Transgender individual does not conform to the sex-based stereotypes of the sex that he or she was assigned at birth"

Double standard?

The district informed the Whitaker family that the only way they would reverse the policy is if Ashton went through surgical transition, an expensive procedure which he was too young for and may not want.

The court said this created a double-standard between transgender students and other students. If the district appeals, the case could end up before the Supreme Court.

A similar case is that of Gavin Grimm who sued the Gloucester County School Board after being denied the right to use the boys' bathroom. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth District ruled in favor Grimm based on protections for transgender student put in place by the Obama administration.

Gavins' case must be reconsidered, however, after the Trump administration rescinded those protections.

Even though Whitaker will no longer be a student he hopes the ruling will help other transgender students:

"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."