Department of Justice asserts Virginia trans student’s bathroom rights in ACLU lawsuit
The Department of Justice reaffirmed its support for transgender students in an statement of interest released today. The statement is directly connect to a lawsuit filed against the Gloucester County school board by the Virginia ACLU against the over its recent policy change forcing trans students to use restrooms aligned with their birth gender.
“Under Title IX, discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex,” reads the statement, which goes on to say the rural Virginia County’s new bathroom policy specifically violates this condition.
“There is a public interest in ensuring that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination.”
In December of last year, Gloucester County voted almost unanimously to require all students to use their birth gender restroom. Transgender student Gavin Grimm, who spoke out against the policy, has since filed a lawsuit with help from the VA ACLU to fight it.
“I just want to use the restroom in peace,” said Gavin in an ACLU press release. “Since the school board passed this policy I feel singled out and humiliated every time I need to use the restroom.”
“High school is difficult enough for any student without having the school board publicly single him out for special restroom rules,” said Rebecca Glenberg, legal director of the ACLU of Virginia, when the lawsuit was announced earlier this month. “Gavin is an extraordinarily courageous boy who is filing this lawsuit not only to protect his own rights, but the rights of all of the transgender students who come after him. We are proud to represent him.”
“Every Virginian has the right to live, learn, and work without fear of discrimination,” said Attorney General, Mark Herring in March of this year. The forward-thinking statement came along with his open opinion that school boards have the ability and responsibility to add gender identity to their district’s list of protected classes.
The Fairfax County School board capitalized on his words in May, voting 10-1 to provide protections for transgender students and employees.
But not every county has been as supportive.
In March, following in Gloucester County’s footsteps, The Stafford County School Board voted 6-0 in favor of forcing Hartwood Elementary School’s lone trans student to use a separate bathroom from the rest of the students.
“The issue isn’t as clear as anyone would like it to be, and I’m hoping at some point that we get some direction either from our legislators in Virginia or from VSBA [Virginia School Boards Association],” Superintendent Bruce Benson said during them meeting according to the Fredericksburg.com.
Don’t expect a speedy resolution to this complicated issue.June 24, 2016
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