Kit Steinkellner
Updated July 24, 2016
Les Chatfield/Flickr Creative Commons

The issue of trans bathroom usage is obviously one that has a lot of people talking recently. But we’ve learned that the Kenosha Unified School District in Wisconsin has taken it to another level by issuing a pretty disturbing request.

They’ve asked asked its guidance counselors to give bright green wristbands to transgender students so that the school district could monitor these students’ bathroom usage.

As a result, 16-year trans boy Ash Whitaker is suing his school district (with his mother Melissa acting as co-plaintiff) under the federal Title IX law (which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity).

As the Daily Beast reports, the lawsuit states that after having come out to his family and a few close friends in the 8th grade, Ash revealed to his fellow students and teachers that he was trans his sophomore year of high school. He was subsequently informed by his administration that he would not be allowed to use the boys’ bathroom. Instead, he would either have to use the girls’ facilities, or an office restroom that (according to Ash in the filed complaint) was an unacceptable option because it was both far from most of his classes and because it would both “segregate and stigmatize” Ash.

After a year of avoiding the bathroom and restricting his liquid intake (which led to health complications, including worsening migraines and fainting spells) and a number of uncomfortable situations, Ash begin using the boys’ bathroom his sophomore year.

For a while this worked for Ash, and then the school authorities started cracking down, forcing Ash to choose between the girls’ bathroom or the office facilities, and then introducing the unsettling wristband program.

Ash explains more about the issue in a statement issued by the Transgender Law Center (the group that co-filed Ash’s lawsuit)

“My peers and many of my teachers know me as a boy, and have been incredibly supportive. But the school administrators have made my life miserable every school day since this spring, when they told me I could no longer use the boys’ restrooms, which I’d been using with the support of my classmates for months. I worry about how I’m going to navigate the demands of senior year if I can’t even go to the bathroom without worrying that I’m being watched.”

This type of discrimination, which would force a trans student to wear an identifying item for the express purpose of preventing him from using the bathroom of his gender choice is a whole new level of awful.

We are rooting for Ash and proud he’s making big changes in his hometown. He’s already won one major battle against his school district in order to run for Prom King (instead of Queen as they were forcing him to). We wish him total success in his new fight against trans discrimination.