A trans student in the US has won an $800,000 settlement from his former school district over ongoing transphobic discrimination.
Ashton Whitaker filed the lawsuit in 2016 after “humiliating” treatment at George Nelson Tremper High School in Wisconsin, according to The New York Times.
Staff continually referred to him as a girl and banned him from using male bathrooms.
“The idea of using the girls restroom was humiliating and there was no way I could do it,” said Whitaker in a court document.
He reported suffering health problems including migraines from dehydration because he avoided drinking water in an attempt to minimise using the bathroom.
When Whitaker was in his senior year, a federal court ordered the school to allow him to use the male bathroom.
The school appealed the decision, arguing “a student cannot unilaterally declare their gender then demand that they be treated like ‘all others’ in that sex classification”, but it was upheld by the court.
The school board this week voted to settle for $800,000 for harm against Whitaker and for his legal costs.
“This settlement sends the clear message to all school districts that discriminating against transgender students is against the law and harms students who simply want to go to school,” said Joseph Wardenski of Relman, Dane & Colfax, one of the firms representing Whitaker in the case.
Whitaker said he felt relieved and empowered by the outcome.
“I am deeply relieved that this long, traumatic part of my life is finally over and I can focus on my future and simply being a college student,” he said.
“Winning this case was so empowering and made me feel like I can actually do something to help other trans youth live authentically.
“My message to other trans kids is to respect themselves and accept themselves and love themselves. If someone’s telling you that you don’t deserve that, prove them wrong.”