HOME | Featured

Federal Judge rules against Gloucester County transgender teen in bathroom battle

Brad Kutner | September 8, 2015

Gavin Grim will be forced into a separate but equal “alternative private” restroom this fall thanks to an order from Norfolk District Judge Robert Doumar last week.

Gimm, 16, has been at the center of an ACLU law suit since early this summer. He started transitioning female-to-male last school year and was using the boys restrooms successfully until November when the local school board passed a rule forcing students to use restrooms aligned with their birth gender.

“It is difficult to face another school year of being singled out and treated differently from other students,” said Grimm in an press release sent out after the ACLU heard the judge’s verdict from a hearing held in late July. “I am determined to move forward because this case is not just about me, but about all transgender students in Virginia.”

Grims fight is far from over – the Judge has only denied a temporary injunction which would have allowed him to use the boys restroom until the Federal Court made its final ruling.

“We are deeply disappointed with the court’s decision and will appeal as quickly as possible to ensure that Gavin does not have to endure this harmful and stigmatizing policy a single day more than necessary,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney in the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Project. “As a result of the decision, Gavin will have to start the school year under a demeaning and stigmatizing policy that relegates him to separate restrooms from his peers. We expect today’s decision to be reversed on appeal.”

The ACLU had sought the injunction for Grim under Title IX which has, in the past, protected transgender students from sex discrimination. During the July hearing, however, Judge Doumar dismissed the Title IX argument.

Read more about the July hearing here

Doumar questioned the ACLU attorney extensively at that time – asking everything from what defines someone as being transgender to whether or not holding in urine causes infections, an issue in Grimm’s complaint because he’s chosen to avoid the restroom altogether to avoid the stigma associated with being singled out.

Doumar was unafraid to go off topic in his line of questioning, discussing marijuana laws, the authority of the Department of Justice, and how he was “rather upset with where we’re going in the United States.”

“You’re fighting an uphill battle,” Doumar told the ACLU after he dismissed the their argument that the school board’s policy violated Title IX.

In June of 2015, the Department of Justice filed a brief supporting Gavin in his sex discrimination claim, stating, “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.”

Representatives from the Justice Department were in the court room in July but Judge Doumar refused to hear their testimony.

It is unclear if the ACLU’s second argument, equal protection under the 14th amendment, will be enough to sway Doumar.

This is a developing story and GayRVA has reached out to the ACLU with additional questions. This story will be updated when the answers become available.