Supreme Court to Rule on Va. Teen’s Bathroom-Access Lawsuit

Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. focuses on a transgender teen boy’s right to use the bathroom associated with his gender identity. 

A gender-neutral sign is posted outside a bathroom at Oval Park Grill in Durham, N.C., on May 11, 2016.
A gender-neutral sign is posted outside a bathroom at Oval Park Grill in Durham, N.C., on May 11, 2016. Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that it would decide in in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. whether a transgender boy may use the boys’ bathroom in a Virginia high school.

The high court will decide whether the Obama administration may require public school systems to let transgender students use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, the Washington Post reports.

The School Board of Gloucester County filed a petition asking the court to overturn a lower court’s order that Gavin Grimm be allowed to use the boys’ restroom during his senior year at Gloucester High School. Gavin, 17, was born female but identifies as male.

Alleging that a policy requiring students to use the bathroom corresponding with their “biological sex” is discriminatory and violates his civil rights, Gavin sued the school board. According to the Post, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit sided with Gavin in April and ruled that his case could move forward. The court deferred to the Obama administration’s position that Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in public schools, protects the rights of transgender students to use school bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

A month later, the U.S. Department of Education issued the same guidance to the nation’s public schools.

According to the Post, the Supreme Court voted 5 to 3 in August to temporarily stay the lower court’s ruling while it remained on appeal. The Post reports that in the order granting that stay, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that he was joining the conservative justices as a “courtesy” that would preserve the status quo while the court considered whether to accept the case.

The case will not be heard until next year, and in an interview with the Post on Friday, Gavin said that it was unfair that he will continue to be barred from using the boys’ bathroom at his high school until the case is decided. As of now, he tries to avoid using the bathroom at school altogether but uses the nurse’s bathroom when absolutely necessary.

“It means I’m going to have to spend another school year where I should be focused on college plans and prom and graduation . . . not able to use the bathroom at my school,” Gavin said.

Gavin, who came out as a transgender boy during his freshman year of high school, has a deep voice and facial hair as a result of hormone therapy, the Post reports.

“We’re prepared to make our case to the court and to make sure the Supreme Court and people in general see Gavin as who he is and see trans kids across the country for who they are,” said Gavin’s attorney, Joshua Block, of the American Civil Liberties Union. He added that Gavin “is not trying to dismantle sex-segregated restrooms. He’s just trying to use them.”

The Post reports that Troy Andersen, chairman of the Gloucester County School Board, said in a statement that the board is “grateful that the Supreme Court has granted the School Board’s petition in this difficult case.”

“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,” Andersen wrote.

“This is one of the most important days in the history of the transgender movement,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement. “Whatever the court rules . . . 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.”

Read more at the Washington Post.

Comments