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Wisconsin school district settles transgender discrimination case

[JURIST] The Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) [official website] agreed [Kenosha News report] Tuesday to settle a lawsuit filed by a former transgender student who said the district discriminated against him by not allowing him to use the men's restroom at his high school.

The lawsuit was originally filed [complaint, PDF] on behalf of the student, Ash Whitaker, by the Transgender Law Center [advocacy website] in July 2016. The lawsuit brought claims for alleged violations of the Title IX of the Educations Amendments Act of 1972 and the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause.

The matter progressed to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] which affirmed [JURIST report] the district court's order allowing the Whitaker to use the men's restroom. KUSD then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari [text, PDF] to the US Supreme Court [official website], which had agreed to hear the matter.

According to local reports, the KUSD board voted 4-2 in favor of settling the matter. The parties have reportedly agreed upon a total settlement sum of $800,000 following two non-binding mediation sessions. The board members who voted in favor of the settlement cited mounting legal fees as the primary motivator in settling the matter while maintaining their belief of having a high chance of succeeding the Supreme Court. The dissenting votes voiced concerns over the fact, without reaching a final resolution in the Supreme Court, KUSD and other school districts remain susceptible to lawsuits similar to Whitaker's. As the matter is now settled, the Supreme Court will no longer have the opportunity to consider the constitutionality of KUSD's restroom policy in this matter.

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