June July 2016
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Appeals Court To Consider Transgender Teen's Bathroom Rights

Gavin Grimm
Gavin Grimm

An appeals court in Virginia will today hear a transgender teen who wants to be able to use a school bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity in a case that could have national implications, according to the Washington Post. 

Gavin Grim, 16, and his attorneys will go before judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals who will decide whether banning Gavin, who was assigned female at birth, from the boy’s bathroom constitutes sex discrimination, a violation of federal law. 

According to the Post:

"This is the first time a federal court of appeals has taken up the question over whether bathroom restrictions for transgender students violates Title IX — the federal law barring discrimination based on gender in schools — and the case is being closely watched by activists on both sides of the issue. A half-dozen states have filed amicus briefs opposing Gavin."

A decision in this case could alter conditions for transgender students everywhere, allowing them to assert the rights to use a bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. 

Battles over bathroom use have heated up across the country, leaving many transgender students in compromising positions. In Missouri nearly 150 students staged a walkout last year when Lila Perry, who is transgender tried to use the women's bathroom at her high school.

Over the years numerous lawmakers, including one in Virginia, have proposed laws seeking to limit bathroom use based upon anatomy. In Texas, Houston's anti-discrimination law known as HERO was defeated by a campaign playing upon bathroom gender policing. The campaign sought to ignite public fears over men in women's bathrooms, which is what anti-HERO activist claimed would come to pass should transgender people be allowed to use the bathrooms of their gender identity.

Gavin, who came out as transgender when he was 15, told the Washington Post that using a bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity was paramount.  “I feel humiliated and dysphoric every time I’m forced to use a separate facility,” Gavin said in a conference call Monday. 

Gavin had been using a boys bathroom at Gloucester High when parents became angry and complained to the school board. A policy was passed requiring students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their "biological gender," segregating Gavin to a separate unisex facility, according to the paper.  

"He said being forced to use a separate, unisex bathroom has exacerbated the anguish of being a transgender teenager. His legal fight, too, has made him the target of 'ridicule.'"

Those who support bathroom restrictions paint them as common sense.

“I think the ACLU's attempt to twist Title IX is way beyond the intent of the law,” said Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, which is representing a Virginia woman suing a local school district for passing a law protecting LGBTQ students and staff from discrimination.

Joshua Block, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney arguing Gavin’s case, said a decision could have major implications. “It will likely be a bellwether one way or another that people will look to in the immediate future to look to see where courts are headed,” he told the paper. 

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