ACLU responds to Gloucester School Board decision on transgender students

constitutionThe Gloucester School Board voted Tuesday to accept a policy that will discriminate against transgender students by requiring them either to use bathroom and locker room facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity or use “an alternative private facility.”  As the ACLU and ACLU of Virginia told the Board in a letter sent last week, this policy will violate Title IX of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits schools that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex.

“We are deeply disappointed that the school board opted to discriminate against transgender students by prohibiting them from using appropriate bathrooms and locker rooms,” said ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg.  “Our school boards should be focused on making Virginia schools as inclusive and welcoming as possible.  This new policy will do the opposite.  Forcing transgender students to use segregated facilities not only violates federal law, but is also intensely stigmatizing.”

The policy was proposed after officials at Gloucester County High School decided this fall to allow Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy, to use the boys’ restrooms.  This decision has not resulted in any disruption at the school, where students appear supportive of Gavin’s right to use restrooms that are consistent with his gender identity.

“The students, teachers, and administrators of my school understand that I am a boy, and it’s important for me to be able to use the boys’ bathroom,” said Grimm.  “I don’t know why the school board can’t understand that too.”

“Gavin has been so much happier and healthier since he has been able to be himself at school,” said Gavin’s mother, Deirdre Grimm.  “It will be a major step backward for him to have to use a girls’ bathroom or a bathroom that is separate from the ones all the other students use.”

“This is simply unacceptable,” added Ms. Grimm.  “We will be exploring ways to fight this decision.”

Federal courts, as well as the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice, have recognized that discrimination based on gender identity violates Title IX of the United States Education Amendments of 1972.  Both DOE and DOJ have settled discrimination cases against school districts by requiring school districts to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that accord with their gender identity.

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