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Va. School Board Appeals Ruling That Favored Trans Student Gavin Grimm

Gavin Grimm

The attorney for the Gloucester County School Board said that forcing trans students to use bathrooms that align with their "biological sex" is constitutional. 

Late last month a federal judge sided with transgender student Gavin Grimm and ruled that Virginia's Gloucester County School Board violated his rights under Title IX, part of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in education, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, when it barred him from using the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity. Now, the school board is appealing Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen's decision.

The school board's attorney David Corrigan, who filed the brief on Friday, argued that Title IX does not "protect the right of transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity," adding that the school board's demands that transgender students use bathrooms that correspond with their "biological sex" and not with their gender identity is constitutional, according to the The Washington Post.

Grimm, 19, first challenged the school board when he was a sophomore in 2015. He began transitioning in late 2014 and used the boys' restroom unchallenged for several months before parents' complaints got him banned from the restroom that corresponded with his gender identity. The school board then adopted a policy that forced him to use a single-stall restroom, further stigmatizing him, and leading him to sue the school.

The recent decision Judge Wright Allen handed down was the second ruling on Grimm's case in district court. A judge sided with the school board in a previous ruling in 2015. The following year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned that decision, ruling that under Title IX and the Obama administration's guidance on its application, Grimm had suffered unlawful discrimination.

From there, the case was set to head to the Supreme Court, but following the Trump administration revoking President Barack Obama-era guidelines to protect trans students early in early 2017, just after Donald Trump took office, SCOTUS opted not to hear the case considering what became a narrower interpretation of Title IX under Trump. The appeals court ruling was vacated and Grimm's case was kicked back to district court.

"I feel an incredible sense of relief "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," Grimm said following Wright Allen's decision on May 22. "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."

Despite the school board's attorney Corrigan's insistence that the school has a constitutional right to bar trans students from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, Grimm's attorney Joshua Block of the American Civil Liberties Union was confident that the courts have moved on from upholding blatantly discriminatory policies against transgender people.

"The vast majority of courts have already made clear that these discriminatory and harmful policies violate Title IX," Block said. "We're confident that the Fourth Circuit would agree."

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