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Published On: Sat, Oct 29th, 2016

Virginia transgender bathroom case heads to US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday to take up the case G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, a lawsuit challenging a Virginia school district’s policy of maintaining separate restrooms for members of each sex while providing individual, private facilities for students uncomfortable with using a facility that corresponds to their sex.

The high court’s order means that “transgender” student Gavin Grimm will not be able to use the boys’ bathroom in the meantime.

The court could use the case to resolve similar disputes across the country, said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “Obviously, for transgender people, the stakes of this case are incredibly high. Whatever the court rules in Grimm may ensure that transgender people are accepted and included as equal members of our society, or it may relegate them to outsiders for decades to come,” Minter said.

A lower court had ordered the school board to accommodate Grimm, but the justices in August put that order on hold while they considered whether to hear the appeal.

photo John Hain

photo John Hain

Grimm, a 17-year-old high school senior, was born female but identifies as male. Grimm was allowed to use the boys’ restroom at his high school for several weeks in 2014. But after some parents complained, the school board adopted a policy requiring students to use either the restroom that corresponds with their biological gender or a private, single-stall restroom. Grimm is backed by the Obama administration in his argument that the policy violates Title IX, a federal law that bars sex discrimination in schools.

“I never thought that my restroom use would ever turn into any kind of national debate,” Grimm said in a statement issued after the court announced it will hear his case. “The only thing I ever asked for was the right to be treated like everyone else. While I’m disappointed that I will have to spend my final school year being singled out and treated differently from every other guy, I will do everything I can to make sure that other transgender students don’t have to go through the same experience.”

“Schools have a duty to protect the privacy and safety of all students,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb. “That’s a compelling reason for the Supreme Court to review the 4th Circuit’s decision in this case, especially when other courts—including the 4th Circuit itself previously—have upheld that principle. In light of the right to bodily privacy, federal law should not be twisted to require that a male be given access to the girls’ facilities, or a female to the boys’ facilities. The Supreme Court should reverse the 4th Circuit’s ruling, which is out of step with the law and previous federal court precedent.”

“The board looks forward to explaining to the Court that its restroom and locker room policy carefully balances the interests of all students and parents in the Gloucester County school system,” Gloucester County school board chairman Troy Andersen said.

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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