On July 6th, 2023, a federal judge temporarily stopped Mukwonago Area School District from enacting a new policy that would have required students to use the restroom and locker room facilities matching the sex they were assigned at birth, and would have denied transgender and other gender nonconforming kids the ability to use the facilities that match their outward expression or identity. The judge issued this temporary restraining order against the district after an 11 year old transgender student and her mother filed a lawsuit when the district did not allow the student, who identifies as a girl, to use the girls’ restroom, and instead told her she either needed to use the boys’ bathroom, or “a single-occupancy purportedly gender-neutral restroom,” threatening disciplinary action if she did not do so during summer school. This order is meant to be a stay while the suit goes through the courts.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the judge who granted the order, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman, wrote in his decision, “The court held, among other things, that a ‘policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender non-conformance.’ The court further held that, ‘[p]roviding a gender-neutral alternative is not sufficient to relieve the School District from liability, as it is the policy itself which violates [Title IX].’ These holdings give plaintiff a likelihood of success on her claims.” He continued that the Whitaker case, a case involving a transgender student in Kenosha and allowed him to use the boys’ bathroom according to his identity, meant that this lawsuit is likely to succeed. Adelman also said, according to the MJS, that “the student in the Mukwonago case will “suffer significant irreparable harm without a temporary restraining order.”’
In the lawsuit, the student and her mother laid out the issues with the policy as it is. Not only does it discriminate against transgender kids, but the bathrooms that the student was offered use of, either the boys’ or single-occupancy, were either far enough away from her class that it would have caused her to miss an unnecessary amount of class time. She continued that the single-occupancy bathrooms were typically only used by the staff members, and were in places not normally accessible by students. Using them would have caused, she feared, other students to question why she was forced to use them, potentially outing her to her peers without her consent.
For his part, Joe Koch, the superintendent of the Mukwonago Area School District, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “the Mukwonago Area School District will continue to defend its restroom and locker room policy “in the interest of protecting the safety, privacy and wellness of all students.”’