Transgender Students Have To Wear Wristband, Lawsuit Claims Transgender Identification In Kenosha Unified School District

Alap Naik Desai - Author

Jul. 25 2016, Updated 8:51 a.m. ET

Transgender students have been ordered to wear wristbands at the Kenosha Unified School District, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Ashton “Ash” Whitaker, who was recently prohibited from using the boys’ bathroom, apart from being subjected to other indignities.

In a statement sent to Mashable, the Kenosha Unified School District denied having a “practice or policy requiring any student to wear a wristband for monitoring any purpose or for any reason whatsoever.” The district added it is reviewing the complaint.

The lawsuit claims students who have identified themselves as transgender are currently being forced by the Kenosha Unified School District to wear badges that visually demarcate their gender identity openly.

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A federal Title IX lawsuit filed in Wisconsin on Tuesday alleges that the Kenosha Unified School District instructed guidance counselors to have Whitaker, a 16-year-old transgender boy, and “any other transgender students at the school” wear “bright green wristbands” so that the school could “more easily monitor and enforce [their] restroom usage,” reported the Daily Beast.

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The lawsuit, filed by the Transgender Law Center on behalf of Ash Whitaker and his mother, notes that Ash has been using the men’s room for more than seven months after he was denied the usage by the school, and the rule was challenged and defeated. However, the pressure hasn’t been lifted, and now the school’s guidance counselors insists he and other transgender students wear a bright green wristband while they are in the school, according to the lawsuit.

The wristband would ensure the school can easily monitor and enforce these students’ restroom usage. Additionally, the school allegedly mandated that Whitaker would have to bunk with the girls during the class’ orchestra trip to Europe. Moreover, during the recent overnight school-sponsored orchestra camp held on a college campus, Ash was to stay either in a multi-room suite with girls, or alone in a multi-room suite with no other students, reportedPlanet Transgender.

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Ash Whitaker and his family insist that such tactics amount to mental torture, are akin to segregation, and further stigmatizes students for being “different,” reportedPink News. When the school ruled Ash had to either use the girl’s room or the single-occupant restroom in the school office instead, he started to reduce his bathroom visits altogether by substantially cutting down on amount of liquids he ingested during the day. Needless to say, such drastic measures took a heavy toll on his body, worsening his migraines and his symptoms of vasovagal syncope, a fainting condition, shared his mother.

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According to the U.S. Transgender Survey, about a third of 27,000 respondents admitted they avoid drinking or eating just so they could bring down or skip bathroom visits. As a result of such unhealthy practices, about eight percent of the respondents suffered from Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or some other kidney-related medical complications.

Following the legal recourse, Whitaker has had an uneventful seven months, during which he regularly visited the men’s room. However, the school’s administration once again raised an objection and issued an ultimatum, mandating him to either use the girl’s room or the office restroom.

While these atrocities may seem torturous, the final straw was the creation of a surveillance program to control Ash’s bathroom use, the lawsuit claims. In accordance to the program, security guards were asked to notify the school administrators if they spotted any students who appear to be going into the “wrong” restroom. The following month, Ash’s guidance counselor introduced the deeply troubling “bright green wristband practice” for transgender students, claimed Ash’s mother. Though the policy seemed suspiciously aimed at Ash Whitaker, the school insists it would apply to “any other transgender students at the school.”

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The federal government instructed school districts in May to allow transgender students to use the proper bathrooms that match their gender identity, reported CNN. However, at least 21 states have decided to challenge the decision and are suing the federal government.

[Photo by Philippe Lopez/Getty Images]


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