ACLU files Federal discrimination complaint against Gloucester School Board bathroom policy
The ACLU of Virginia filed a Federal discrimination complaint today against the Gloucester County School Board, in response to their recent ruling that requires schoolchildren to use restrooms according to “biological gender.”
This ruling stems from the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender male teenager attending Gloucester High School.
The ACLU filed their complaint on Grimm’s behalf after the School Board adopted the “biological gender” policy at a meeting on December 9, voting 6-1 in favor of the measure.
This vote occurred despite prior warnings sent to the School Board by the ACLU regarding Title IX rules against discrimination by sex. According to a recent Department of Justice memo, the Title IX rules against sex discrimination apply to transgender students:
“Under Title IX, a recipient generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”
Before the Gloucester School Board got involved with the case in October 2014, Grimm had been using the male restrooms at Gloucester High School without incident.
The new policy requires that trans students either use bathrooms inconsistent with their gender identity or avail themselves of an “alternate private facility.”
“Now that the board has passed this policy, school no longer feels as safe and welcoming as it did before,” Grimm said in an ACLU press release. “Being singled out is a glaring reminder of my differences and causes me significant discomfort every time I have to use the restroom.”
‘These policies inflict real harm on real students. By adopting this new “biological gender” policy solely to prevent Gavin from using the same bathroom as other boys, Gloucester Public Schools sends an incredibly stigmatizing message that segregates Gavin and other transgender students from their peers,” stated Joshua Block, an attorney for the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Schools can address privacy concerns by making unisex bathrooms more widely available for any student who is not comfortable using a communal restroom facility, but they cannot discriminatorily require transgender students – and only transgender students – to use unisex bathrooms.”
The Virginia educational system has a history with restrictive policies on trans students. The Virginia high school league voted earlier this year to require trans students to have undergone sexual reassignment surgery in order to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity.
They recent updated their policy to allow for students to play according to gender identity after outcries from the public.
Meanwhile, in Gloucester, ACLU of Virginia legal director Rebecca Glenberg pointed out, “Courts have repeatedly found that gender identity discrimination is sex discrimination. Consigning transgender students to segregated bathrooms prevents them from participating in school activities on an equal basis and causes exclusion and ostracism.”
You can read the full text of the ACLU’s complaint here.
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