Outrage after transgender student told he can’t run for prom king: “We stand with him 100%”

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KENOSHA — School administrators at Tremper High School in Kenosha told a transgender high school junior he either had to step down from prom court, or run for prom queen because he wasn't born a male.

Ash Whitaker

Ash Whitaker

Ash Whitaker, who is 16, says he was thrilled to learn he had made prom court, but was disappointed when school officials told him he couldn't run for king.

"They've been really mean about it," he said. “I want it to be easier for trans kids to come out.  I don’t want them to be afraid of what people will say -- and at this point -- it’s how the adults will react.”

On Tuesday, April 5th, Tremper High School students came together to support their classmate and urge school administrators to change their minds.

Ash Whitaker

Ash Whitaker

"We all stand with him 100 percent," said Isabella Molina. "He defines himself as a man. He deserves the respect to be treated as a man, and I don’t understand why they would want him to run for prom queen. That is ridiculous. That is dehumanizing. I just want people to put themselves in Ash’s shoes."

Ash came out to friends, family and teachers during the last school year. He says he's had no problems until now.

Ash Whitaker

He's even been able to use the male restrooms at school until recently, when school officials told him he needed to use the female restrooms or a private restroom in the main office.

"People think this is just about me, but it's not," he said. "It's for the kids who are still in the closet."

Ash Whitaker

His mom, Melissa Whitaker, has taught special education at Tremper High School for 19 years. She said she was shocked and disappointed when her colleagues at work told her son that he couldn't run for prom king.

"You're going to tell me that my son, MY SON, has to run for prom queen?" she said. "I was so angry, so infuriated, so hurt. This is not about just transgender students. This is about any student who's shy, who's quiet, who's depressed, who's gay, who just wants to be a part of things.”

Students shared those concerns during protests on Tuesday.

Ash Whitaker

"School is supposed to be a safe place for everyone, where everyone can feel welcome and feel like they aren't going to be discriminated against," said one student.

"This is our school, OK? And if Ash wants to run for prom king, he deserves to run for prom king," Molina said.

Kenosha Unified School District doesn't have a policy to address transgender issues that might arise in schools. Ash, who was born a female, has been "out" since last year. He says he's identified as a male since he was 13 years old.

Ash Whitaker

Ash Whitaker

"In middle school I just didn’t feel like I fit in at all. I tried so hard to be the girliest girl. I identified more with the male gender role," Whitaker said.

On Tuesday, Tanya Ruder, director of communications for Kenosha Unified School District told FOX6 the district was just learning about the incident.

"We're looking into it. We're getting all of the details, all of the background, and asking the questions that we need to get a more informed decision to Ash and his family," Ruder said.

On Wednesday, Ruder called to say that while the issue was initially handled at the school level, it has now been escalated to the district level. Following Tuesdays protests, district leaders met Wednesday morning.

Ash Whitaker

Ash Whitaker

Ash Whitaker will now be able to choose whether to run for prom king or prom queen. However, Ruder said, “the district asks that all students use the bathroom assigned by their biological sex.”

KUSD officials are currently reviewing the applicable laws and regulations regarding transgender students and a new policy is in the works.

“The safety and equality of all students is a top priority,” Ruder said.

Ash Whitaker

Ash Whitaker and his mom Melissa say Ash will be formally accepting the prom king candidate nomination and are still pushing forward for equal rights on the bathroom issue.

Students are now using the hashtag #ashquality to support their classmate. A petition, circulated earlier this week, now has more than 5,000 signatures from people urging the district to allow Ash to run for prom king.

Tremper High School

Tremper High School

Google Map for coordinates 42.549118 by -87.842113.


  • Honky

    I wish it was like this when i was in high school, being a male i couldve identified as a female and used the females locker room. Nice!

  • FED UP

    until the parts prove the gender , then you must go by that, girl parts using a guys restroom or vise versa, W.T.F. is going on in this world. it`s nice to have the backing but what is right and wrong.

  • Dylan

    If you have boy parts boys bathroom. Girl parts girl bathroom..goes for locker rooms also…use a single unisex bathroom otherwise..the prom king can be a biological queen..and the prom queen a biological king…so be it….so gay.transgender.cross dresser…I get confused…

  • Tom Fuller

    It doesn’t really take much courage to stand for a p.c. cause. If you do, your enemies will be Christian who will shake their heads and pray for you at worst. If you stand for Scripture, your enemies will be liberals, who will slander you, sue you, sling hate language at you and do all they can to eliminate your opinion, if not you. What takes steely, raw courage is standing for what the Bible says. If you don’t believe me just stand up in an LGBT meeting and say, “I believe the Bible is true.” Who said this? ISIS or LGBT? “Submit to us or lose everything!” Amazing, though, how many celebrities and liberals think that standing for popular p.c. causes makes them the Martin Luther Kings of their causes.

  • Truth Hertz

    If you have a womb you are a girl if not you are a boy. Case closed, how you attempt to subjectively identify is irrelevant.

    • bizarrologic

      I dress like a boss at work, that now makes me one. I want my boss’ office. I identify as a rich guy!

  • societygoingdownthedrain

    Why not hold 2 proms? One prom where boys are boys and girls are girls and another prom where girls identify as boys and boys identify as girls.

  • societygoingdownthedrain

    Why not have 2 proms? One prom is for boys that identify as boys and girls that identify as girls. The second prom is for girls that identify as boys and boys that identify as girls. Good luck bathroom monitor!

  • Fed up Offending the confused

    Lets call it like it is. This is a female. There is nothing to indicate otherwise. Just because they identify themselves with what they want, doesn’t give them the right to say I am wrong for hurting this females feelings. Where in the Constitution did I lose my right to offend? If this offends you, well then you really don’t know the true meaning of our constitution.

  • joe brown

    why queen though , win as king and still be a queen why still from a little real girl …ok media gay kid mom …and the rest of the crazy ones who make a fuss just to be doing something sit down and stop trying to change things in history that is sacred

  • Actually Educated

    Good for these kids for standing up for what they believe is right. The world will be a better place when the old closed-minded individuals are no longer in charge. Go punish people harming others instead.

  • TED

    I bet Ash runs like a girl, throws like a girl, walks like a girl and has girl parts. Did you play roshambo growing up Ash?
    Hope Ash gets the help she needs, as well as Jenner.

  • Carrie Davis

    This is a child people. My child is transgender and I would rather they be happy living as they feel themselves then dead from suicide because they felt they had to hide their true selves. Imagine having to live a lie for your whole life and not being able to be true to the ones you love. Remember the words you share could save a life or be that last stab that ends a life.

  • Dylan

    Ash is a female…appears ash likes girls…ash is perhaps a lesbian..Ash needs counseling..gender identity counseling..then u decide on surgery….to make a penis from your cloitoris..and take hormones.testosterone..etc…or wear a strap on prosthetic penis..called a stand to pee.. Mom get ash some help. Are you looking to sue someone so you can raise money for your daughter..who likes girls….and thinks. She wants to be a man so she won’t be considered gay…..mom. she is a girl my all rights and definitions. She will have a menstrual cycle etc….again good luck…and no man better be in a female bathroom I use. If there is a penis it doesn’t belong in any restroom I use. I have civil rights also

  • Matthew Robinson

    The job temp service is playining games with there workers pay checks. There not paying on time and not giving people all of there pay that thay worked hard for. And this is every single week

  • Natasha Lorenzen

    Love you Ash!! Don’t listen to these uneducated, simple minded people whom are scared of something that’s been around since the beginning of human existence! Own it man!!! I wish you the best of luck :)

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