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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 4, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 45
SCOTUS will review Virginia Trans case
Section One
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SCOTUS will review Virginia Trans case

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The US Supreme Court said on October 28 that it will review a Virginia case in which a Transgender high school student sued his school district to be able to use a restroom corresponding to his gender identity.

Gavin Grimm, now 17 and a senior in a Gloucester County, Va., high school, has identified as a boy for several years and began using the boys' restroom at his school. During his sophomore year, some parents objected, and the school ordered him to use restrooms that corresponded to his 'biological gender.'

Grimm then sued with the help of the ACLU, citing the Obama administration's finding that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects the rights of Trans students through its prohibition of sex discrimination.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in an April ruling, but the school district then appealed to the Supreme Court. At the same time, 23 other states challenged the Obama administration's interpretation of Title IX.

Since only one appellate court has ruled on the issue so far, the Supreme Court could have waited for other courts to weigh in on the issue, but the justices decided instead to hear the Virginia appeal. The case is likely to be heard by April and decided by late June.

'It would have been nice to spend less of my senior year worrying about where I'm going to be using the bathroom,' Grimm told USA Today. But he added that he's ready for the fight at the Supreme Court 'to make sure that trans kids that come after me do not have to go through this experience.'

Grimm says that being forced to choose between a single-stall gender-neutral restroom or one in the school nurse's office stigmatized him in front of other students.

'They sent a very clear message to my peers that I was something different' and 'not fit for common spaces,' he said. 'The damage is done, and it's been done significantly, and there's nothing that will ever change that,' Grimm says of the school board's decision.

For him, school has become an unsafe, unwelcoming environment.

'My favorite school activity,' he said, 'is leaving school.'

ACLU Legal Director Steven Shapiro said he hoped Grimm would soon be allowed to use an appropriate restroom.

'We want to get it resolved for his benefit as fast as we can,' he said.

'The Supreme Court's ultimate decision in this case will have a profound impact on transgender youth across the country,' said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

'While hundreds of school districts nationwide are already respecting the civil rights of their transgender students, some are unconscionably discriminating against students like Gavin. Every day that discrimination is allowed to continue, transgender students are put at even greater risk of harm. No young person should wake up in the morning fearful of bullying or discrimination during the school day ahead.'

Eighteen states - including Washington - have laws that open gender-appropriate restrooms and locker rooms to Trans individuals. If the Obama administration's reading of Title IX is upheld by the Supreme Court, all schools that receive federal funds will have to allow Trans students to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identities.

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