Transgender Student’s Bathroom Access Case Returns to Court

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The case of a transgender Virginia high school student who sued for the right to use the girls’ bathroom returns to court on Tuesday.

The high-profile case, which has garnered national attention and been closely watched by transgender rights proponents, began in 2015 when Gavin Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board over its policy preventing transgender students from using the bathroom of their preferred gender at Gloucester High.

Grimm’s American Civil Liberties Union legal team argued that the school board’s policy is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees the right to privacy, and violates Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

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The Supreme Court was originally scheduled to take up the case in March, 2017, but the hearing was canceled when the Trump administration scrapped an Obama administration rule requiring schools to allow students to use the bathroom of their preferred gender.

A federal district court ruled in Grimm’s favor in August of last year, saying the school board’s policy amounts to discrimination based on sex.

“The perpetuation of harm to a child stemming from unconstitutional conduct cannot be allowed to stand,” U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen wrote.

The school board afterwards appealed Allen’s decision at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals will review the appeal on Tuesday remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The school board implemented the policy requiring students to use the bathroom corresponding with their birth sex in December, 2014 in response to complaints by parents of fellow students about Grimm’s use of the boys’ bathroom. The board’s legal team said that the policy is intended to protect other students’ privacy and argued that Grimm’s complaints no longer apply since the California college student has already graduated and no longer attends the high school.

Grimm, 21, who was born female but began transitioning to male after freshman year, graduated high school three years ago and says the school continues to refuse to provide a transcript with the new male sex designation on Grimm’s birth certificate. Grimm has a legally changed name and has undergone hormone therapy as well.

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