ACLU sues Valpo schools over transgender restroom access

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit against the Valparaiso Community School Corporation after the local high school allegedly denied a transgender high school student access to a restroom and locker room consistent with his gender identity.

Jasper Wisecarver, 18, attends Valparaiso High School and has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. He’s receiving treatment, including “masculinizing hormone replacement therapy, aimed at alleviating the distress associated with the incongruence between his male gender identity and his birth-assigned sex,” according to the complaint.

Wisecarver, a senior, requested the ability to use the men’s restrooms and locker room at the high school but was denied, and the school has “threatened him with discipline if he does so.”

Additionally, Wisecarver requested to be addressed in a manner that reflects that he is a man by referring to him using male pronouns. The lawsuit alleges school employees have “refused to implement administrative measures that would ensure this occurs, and as a result, he is frequently misgendered by substitute teachers.”

“Trans kids deserve the same rights as anyone. None of us chose to be trans, or decided to make life more difficult for ourselves,” Wisecarver said in a statement. “Young trans kids are just trying to exist, and often don’t feel like they can stand up for their rights. But instead of school administration being supportive, administrators are making life more challenging for already vulnerable students.”

The ACLU argues that denying Jasper and other transgender students access to the correct restrooms violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Title IX.

“The law is clear that denying a student their right to use the correct restroom is discrimination,” ACLU of Indiana attorney Stevie Pactor said in a statement. “Schools should be safe places for kids, and the refusal to allow a student to use the correct restroom can be extremely damaging.”

Wisecarver’s case is one of three ongoing lawsuits filed by the ACLU against multiple public school districts, including lawsuits against the South Madison Community School Corporation and the Vigo County School Corp.

The ACLU has also spoken out against a bill moving through the Indiana Legislature that would ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams.

“This pattern of excluding trans students from school activities and facilities is being encouraged by our lawmakers,” ACLU of Indiana advocacy strategist Kit Malone said in a statement. “Trans kids already face enough barriers without having to face the additional emotional hardships that arise from such discrimination. One in 10 trans Hoosier students will drop out of school because of mistreatment. Our state must do better.”

Indiana Lawyer has reached out to Valparaiso Community School Corporation for comment.

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