WASHINGTON, June 28 (Reuters) – The United States Supreme Court has upheld a victory for a transgender high schooler, Gavin Grimm. The court’s decision is the first of its kind in federal courts and will set precedent on future cases involving discrimination against transgendered people. In addition to claiming that Gloucester County School Board had acted unlawfully by preventing him from using the bathroom corresponding with his gender identity, Grimm also claimed he was discriminated due to one incident where “a group of boys crowded around my toilet stall.”
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has been overruled by the Supreme court in a 7-2 decision. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have taken up the case, however, no other judges agreed with them on this matter which is why it was turned away.
In a brief decision, the court turned away an appeal from the board of directors for Grimm’s school. The conservative justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have taken up his case but were not able to persuade their peers to provide more information on this issue.
The victorious tone of voice can be heard, as the Supreme court finally ruled in favor of Grimm’s case. It took years for this to happen, but now he will have access to restrooms matching his gender identity at school.”
“This is a historic victory and I am proud that my fight has helped make sure schools are safe places,” said Grimm in an interview with The New York Times following today’s decision from SCOTUS. “I never thought when I was 15 or 16 something like this would ever come up so it seemed very important.”
The 4th Circuit ruling does not set a national legal precedent, but it does apply to the five states within its jurisdiction: Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The recent decision by the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in favor of transgender high school student Gavin Grimm signals an important victory for civil rights protections under Title IX that will have major implications on how schools across America handle bathroom access disputes concerning LGBTQ students.
Grimm’s suit had put gender identity at center stage as both advocates and opponents debated whether current federal law requires public institutions to provide equal treatment with regards to bathrooms based upon sex or gender identity rather than biological genitals.
In recent years, many states have enacted laws that place restrictions on transgender people’s access to sport. Florida is one of these states and has ensured its law blocks any athlete who identifies as a woman or girl from competing in sports against other women or girls. The Supreme Court may yet rule on the bathroom issue related to this topic at some point in future cases like Grimm v Board of Education.
Some states, including Florida, have enacted laws that block transgender women and girls from competing in sports. The Supreme Court is still debating on the bathroom access issue related to this matter as well as future cases involving rights for transgenders.
“Our work is not yet done,” said Josh Block, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represents Grimm.
The decision by the justices not to hear this case means they see no urgency on weighing in.
“The court can see that trans kids have been using the restrooms and none of the apocalyptic fears have actually come to pass,” Block added.
The school board has not yet responded to a request for comment.
President Joe Biden’s administration, reversing the position taken under his predecessor Donald Trump, said on June 16 that Title IX protects both gender identity and sexual orientation. The Obama Administration did not say specifically how this applies to students who need access to bathrooms in schools but they reassured us by stating “Title IX requires schools receiving federal funds protect your rights.”
Grimm, an assigned female at birth who identifies as male, enrolled in Gloucester High School and was using the boys’ bathroom for about seven weeks before any complaints. The school board decided to adopt a policy requiring students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender in December 2014 after hearing from parents expressing concern over Grimm’s decision. Now that they have been given the option of using a separate room or going back into girls’, Grimm has refused because he feels stigmatized by this act.
The US Court of Appeals for 4th Circuit ruled in favor of transgender teen Gavin Grimm’s right to use the restroom at his school. The court rejected a lower federal judge’s ruling, stating that it was an unconstitutional violation of child-specific discrimination laws and policies put into place by former President Obama.
Gay and transgender people are protected under a federal law that bars sex discrimination in employment. That ruling helped guide the 4th Circuit’s decision to protect gay and transgender students from bullying, which is why it was so important for Biden administration lawyers to take this before SCOTUS.
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