Published On: Thu, Aug 4th, 2016

SCOTUS ruling slows transgender mandate in schools

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-3 decision Wednesday in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board to place a temporary hold on a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that required a Virginia school district to open up its restrooms to members of the opposite sex.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan would have left the lower court decision undisturbed as Justice Stephen Breyer wrote separately to say that he concurred in the decision in part because granting the stay would “preserve the status quo” until the court has a chance to consider a petition for cert. “I vote to grant the application as a courtesy,” Breyer wrote.
photo Marcus Werthmann

photo Marcus Werthmann

“The order comes as something of a surprise given the current composition of the court,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN contributor and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law.

“In the short term, this means the relationship between transgender identity and sex discrimination will be left in limbo until the Supreme Court resolves it one way or the other. But given that Justice Breyer’s vote was only a courtesy, it’s hard to see the court being able to settle this matter until a ninth justice is appointed,” Vladeck said.
“Schools have a duty to protect the privacy and safety of all students. That’s a principle that numerous other courts—including the 4th Circuit itself—have upheld. Federal law specifically authorizes schools to have single-sex restrooms and locker rooms, as the judge who dissented from the 4th Circuit’s decision rightly noted. The Supreme Court did the right thing in placing the 4th Circuit panel’s mandate and the preliminary injunction entered by the district court on hold until the high court itself has a chance to decide if it will take up this case,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco in response to the ruling.
The school board said the policy was meant in part to protect the “basic expectations of bodily privacy of Gloucester County students.”
It stressed that in September, when the school year commences, Grimm would have access to three single-user restrooms as well as a restroom in the nurse’s office.
Grimm’s lawyers say the policy violates an anti-discrimination law and told the court that it should allow the lower court order to remain in place.
“No irreparable harm will occur” said Joshua Block, an ACLU lawyer, if Grimm “is allowed to use the boys’ restroom while this court considers whether to grant certiorari.”
Block said that Grimm “is a boy and lives accordingly in all aspects of his life” but that “the sex assigned to him at birth was female.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the full 4th Circuit on behalf of 50 concerned parents, students, grandparents, and community members urging the court to reverse the 4th Circuit panel’s 2-1 ruling against the Gloucester County School Board’s student privacy policy.

That policy protects students’ privacy and safety by reserving restrooms and locker rooms for members of the same biological sex, while providing an alternative private facility for students uncomfortable using a facility that corresponds with their sex.

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- 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 theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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