Federal court rules against transgender student seeking to use appropriate restroom at school
A federal court in Virginia today ruled against a transgender male student who sought a preliminary injunction to resume using the boys’ restrooms at Gloucester High School when school begins this fall. Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar’s order keeps in place a discriminatory policy that segregates transgender students from their peers and requires them to use “alternative private” restroom facilities.
The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Virginia, representing student Gavin Grimm, brought the case against the Gloucester County School Board in June 2015 seeking an injunction for immediate relief. The ACLU plans to immediately appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
“We are deeply disappointed with the court’s decision and will appeal as quickly as possible to ensure that Gavin does not have to endure this harmful and stigmatizing policy a single day more than necessary,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney in the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Project. “As a result of the decision, Gavin will have to start the school year under a demeaning and stigmatizing policy that relegates him to separate restrooms from his peers. We expect today’s decision to be reversed on appeal.”
Although the court refused to grant Gavin the injunction that would have let him use the boys’ restroom when school resumes, the court did not yet rule on whether to allow his claim under the Fourteenth Amendment to move forward.
In an earlier decision, the court dismissed Gavin’s claim under Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination by schools. In June, the Department of Justice filed abrief supporting Gavin in his sex discrimination claim, stating, “There is a public interest in ensuring that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination.”
“It is difficult to face another school year of being singled out and treated differently from other students. I am determined to move forward because this case is not just about me, but about all transgender students in Virginia,” said Gavin Grimm.
Gavin’s medical treatment for severe gender dysphoria requires that he socially transition in all aspects of his life. With permission from school administrators, Gavin used the boys’ restroom for almost two months at the beginning of his sophomore year without incident. But after receiving complaints from some parents and residents of Gloucester County, the school board adopted the new policy on December 9, 2014, by a vote of 6-1, despite warnings from the ACLU.
“We hoped that Gavin would get a fresh start at the beginning of the school year, and we are disappointed that will not happen,” said Rebecca Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia.