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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 25, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 21
Federal court affirms rights of Transgender students, orders school district to settle with plaintiff Gavin Grimm
Section One
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Federal court affirms rights of Transgender students, orders school district to settle with plaintiff Gavin Grimm

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A US District Court has tossed out a motion by the Gloucester County School Board to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a Transgender former student and ruled that Trans students are, indeed, protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The ruling may bring closure to the legal saga of Gavin Grimm, now 19, who sued his school district in 2015 to be allowed to use the boys' restroom in his high school. The school district is now under a court order to schedule a settlement conference with Grimm's attorneys.

In her May 22 decision, US District Judge Arenda Wright Allen found that Grimm is covered by Title IX, a federal law that bars discrimination in education based on sex. Title IX and the US Constitution protect Transgender students from being excluded from restrooms that align with their gender identity, the judge said.

The court also directed the parties to schedule settlement talks within 30 days. The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Virginia on Grimm's behalf.

Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT and HIV Project, said the ruling 'vindicates what Gavin has been saying from the beginning.'

'Federal law protects Gavin and other students who are transgender from being stigmatized and excluded from using the same common restrooms that other boys and girls use,' Block continued. 'These sorts of discriminatory policies do nothing to protect privacy and only serve to harm and humiliate transgender students.'

'I feel an incredible sense of relief,' Grimm said.

'After fighting this policy since I was 15 years old, I finally have a court decision saying that what the Gloucester County School Board did to me was wrong and it was against the law. I was determined not to give up, because I didn't want any other student to have to suffer the same experience that I had to go through.'

Grimm originally sued the school district after it passed new rules prohibiting him, and other Trans students, from using gender-appropriate facilities.

A trial court dismissed his lawsuit, but the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Grimm, ruling that he was allowed to sue the school district, and ordering the district to give him access to boys' restrooms pending litigation of the case.

The school district then appealed to the US Supreme Court, which stayed the 4th Circuit ruling until litigation was completed, effectively barring Grimm from the boys' restrooms once again.

Although he has now graduated from high school, the District Court decision allows Grimm to seek damages from the school district and offers federal protection to other Trans students seeking to use gender-appropriate facilities.

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