The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, the court announced on Monday. The decision upholds a lower court’s decision supporting trans and nonbinary students’ rights to use bathrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity.
Both the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia, where then-high schooler Gavin Grimm was a student, violated Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause by prohibiting Grimm from using the same facilities as the other boys at his school. The school made Grimm use separate restrooms.
Grimm’s case made it to the Supreme Court before in 2017, but the judges chose not to hear the case after the Trump administration withdrew the federal government’s support of Grimm’s case. The American Civil Liberties Union — whose lawyers represent Grimm — notes that since then three federal appeals courts have ruled that similar restroom policies violate Title IX and the Constitution. Two more have rejected claims that such restroom policies in favor of trans students infringe on other students’ privacy.
Research from GLSEN shows 45 percent of trans students are scared of using the restroom at school.
In a statement by Gavin Grimm provided by the ACLU, Grimm said, “I am glad that my years-long fight to have my school see me for who I am is over. Being forced to use the nurse’s room, a private bathroom, and the girl’s room was humiliating for me, and having to go to out-of-the-way bathrooms severely interfered with my education. Trans youth deserve to use the bathroom in peace without being humiliated and stigmatized by their own school boards and elected officials.”
LGBTQ+ rights groups across the country have celebrated the court’s decision and Grimm’s win.
“Everyone has the right to high-quality, public education without the fear of being discriminated against simply for being brave enough to show up as you truly are,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “This is a battle Gavin Grimm has been fighting for over four years — we are grateful that his resilience, courage, and determination has finally been rewarded. Congratulations to Gavin!”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in response to the news, “This is a victory for transgender students, who simply want to be themselves without worrying about being rejected or refused access to basic dignities.”
“Our schools and our society are safer and offer more opportunity for all when all are welcome. Our country and community are stronger thanks to Gavin Grimm’s courage and his fight for all kids to be included, valued, and protected,” Ellis added.
Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of the Trevor Project said that group's research has shown that trans and nonbinary youth who experience bathroom discrimination are over 1.5 times more likely to report a suicide attempt in the last year.
“This is a monumental victory for transgender equality and human rights. The fearlessness and determination displayed by Gavin Grimm and his attorneys in this six-year-long battle for justice is nothing short of inspiring,” Paley said.
Paley cited legislation across the U.S. that has targeted trans youth in recent months. Almost 40 states have proposed laws that would target trans students’ health care and access to school sports. Nine already have such laws on the books.
“This is the third time in recent years that the Supreme Court has allowed appeals court decisions in support of transgender students to stand. This is an incredible victory for Gavin and for transgender students around the country," said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. "Our work is not yet done, and the ACLU is continuing to fight against anti-trans laws targeting trans youth in states around the country.”
Two of the court's most conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, said they would have heard the appeal.