The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Virginia school board’s decision to ban transgender student Gavin Grimm from using the boys’ bathroom, temporarily. The case is the first time the transgender bathroom issue has been considered by the high court.
The Gloucester County School Board’s policy to require transgender students to use alternative restroom facilities sparked a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last year. The Virginia school is located approximately 140 miles south of Washington, D.C.
Gavin Grimm, 17, was born a girl but now identifies as a male and lives life as a young man. The ACLU appealed the school’s transgender bathroom policy on Grimm’s behalf. During the last school year, Grimm was instructed to use the restroom in the school nurse’s office. The student, and LGBT advocates, deemed the policy both humiliating and unfair.
The high court agreed Wednesday to allow the Gloucester County School board to bar Gavin Grimm from the bathroom… https://t.co/tiokkC6PY9
— WBTW News 13 (@WBTWNews13) August 4, 2016
The ACLU lawsuit claimed the student’s civil rights had been violated. The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is temporarily blocking a lower appeals court ruling that allowed Grimm to use the boys’ restroom to allow for the case to be deliberated, Reuters reports.
The SCOTUS decision was handed down on Wednesday. Justice Stephen Breyer is often regarded as being a member of the liberal contingent on the court. He sided with his conservative peers in the decision, the Washington Post reports. Justice Breyer stated in a written explanation of his decision that he voted for the temporary transgender bathroom ban as a matter of courtesy to allow the court to research and consider the matter more fully.
The U.S. Supreme Court voted five to three to stay the order by the lower court. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan sided with the lower court and would have denied the Virginia school the authority to demand transgender students use an alternative bathroom.
The SCOTUS has included only eight members since the death of Antonin Scalia. Filling the vacant seat on the high court and the transgender bathroom issue have both become focal points of the 2016 presidential election.
Joshua Block, Gavin Grimm’s attorney, told the media both he and his transgender teen client were very disappointed by the ruling. Grimm will be a senior at the Virginia school when the new academic year begins in just a few weeks.
“Gavin is going to have to begin another school year being stigmatized and separated from his peers as a result of this policy,” Block said.
Gloucester County School officials applauded the SCOTUS decision.
“The board continues to believe that its resolution of this complex matter fully considered the interests of all students and parents in the Gloucester County school system,” a statement from the Virginia school board read.
— 13News Now (@13NewsNow) June 23, 2016
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the Gavin Grimm transgender bathroom case in April. The federal appeals court determined transgender students are protected by federal sex-based discrimination laws. Last month the Gloucester County School Board presented a legal filing to the 4th Circuit Court claiming the body had wrongly applied the sex discrimination federal laws to gender identity in an effort to comply with President Barack Obama’s views on the subject.
The hearing on the matter was the first time an appeals court applied the sex-based discrimination laws to transgender citizens. In May, the Obama administration informed public school across the country that they had to permit transgender students to utilize the bathroom which corresponded with their gender identity or risk losing federal funding. To date, 23 states have filed lawsuits to block the implementation of that order.
What do you think about the transgender bathroom policy enacted by the Virginia school and the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Gavin Grimm case?
[Image by AP Photo/Steve Helber, File]