Gloucester transgender student headed to Federal Court over school bathroom dispute
It’s been over a year since 16-year-old Gavin Grimm first spoke about his need to use the boys restroom at Gloucester high school. And its been just over a year since the local school board there passed a policy making sure he couldn’t.
But next month Grimm will head to Federal Court in Richmond, the next in a long long of law suits aiming for the transgender teen to use the restroom like any other male student.
A stop a district court in September ended with a lower court Judge agreeing with the school board, despite supportive statements from the Justice Department and an interpretation of Title XI similarly supporting his bathroom needs.
“[Grimm's] unsupported claims [that he'd had no issues using the boys restroom], which are mostly inadmissible hearsay, fail to show that his presence in the male restroom would not infringe upon the privacy of other students,” wrote Judge Doumar, dismissing Grimm’s complaint.
The ACLU quickly appealed Doumar’s decision saying the legal group hopes and expects “the Fourth Circuit will reverse the lower court’s ruling and reaffirm that Title IX and the Constitution protect transgender students from being singled out for different treatment simply because of who they are.”
“School officials must treat all students equally and may not demean and stigmatize transgender students by relegating them to separate restrooms from their peers.”
The Department of Justice filed a brief supporting Grimm based on Title IX (on the basis of sex-discrimination) earlier this year. Judge Doumar, however, refused to hear from the DOJ representative in the courtroom during the September hearing.
No matter the courts’ decision on the issue, Grimm continues to suffer in isolation as he is forced into a separate but equal bathroom during this school yer.
“I’m still dealing with the day-to-day humiliation of being singled out from other students,” said Grimm in a statement released earlier this year. “Even though this has been a long battle, I’m pushing forward because all transgender students in Virginia deserve to live fully as who they are.”
According to Gail Deady, the Secular Society Women’s Rights Legal Fellow representing Grimm in this care, neither party’s arguments can change as they head they head into their next court date, and the Fourth Circuits history on supporting same-sex marriage probably wont play a role in the judges decision, but she is hopeful her client will get he outcome he seeks.
“Public schools should be safe havens of learning and inclusivity where all students are respected and cared for and no one is devalued or stigmatized,” Deady said in an email to GayRVA. “Forcing transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity is stigmatizing and discriminatory. Such practices violate the Constitution and Title IX, which prohibits schools receiving federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex—which includes discrimination based on their gender identity.”
Grimm will head to Richmond on Jan. 27, 2016, to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. GayRVA will be in the court room for the hearing and will provide updates as they come in.
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