Norfolk Judge explains why Gloucester trans teen should use the wrong bathroom
Back in July, Gloucester county student and transgender teen Gavin Grimm went to court with the hopes he wouldn’t have to use the girls bathroom this school year.
The local school board has passed a policy which required all students to use the bathroom associated with their birth gender. Grimm, who was born female, had been using the boys restroom without incident until the new policy was put in place last Fall.
While the Norfolk Judge, District Judge Robert Doumar, who heard Grimm’s case in July had already ruled against his request to use the boys restroom, the actual opinion detailing why Grimm has to use the girls room was released last week.
The 26 page document explains Grimm’s complaint, as well as the school boards policy, and finally why Doumar chose to ignore federal law (under Title IX) which should required the school to allow trans boys to use the men’s restroom.
Top concerns from the ACLU included Grimm’s current physical appearance. He started hormone treatment for his Gender Dysphoria (the medical term for transgender) in Dec. 2014. His voice and body have since becoming visibly and unmistakably male.
From the ACLU opinion:
“…girls at school would ask him to leave the female restroom; and that use of the girls’ restroom would also cause G.G. “severe psychological stress” and would be “incompatible with his medically necessary treatment for Gender Dysphoria.”
In an effort to create a separate by equal option for Grimm, the school has allowed him to use a teacher’s restroom or a unisex restroom in the nurse’s office. This doesn’t meet up with those concerned for equality under the law.
“… the use of [single stall restrooms] would stigmatize and isolate him; that the use of these restrooms would serve as a reminder that the school views him as “different”; and that the school community knows that the restrooms were installed for him.”
The ACLU argued for Grimm’s bathroom rights under both Title IX and the equal protection clause of the constitution however Doumar threw out the Title IX argument during July’s hearing, despite a letter from the Department of Education backing up his complaint.
The DOE letter said Title IX specifically instructs schools to handle transgender students based on the gender with which they identify:
The Department’s Title IX regulations permit schools to provide sex-segregated restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, housing, athletic teams, and single-sex classes under certain circumstances. When a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex in those situations, a school must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.
But Doumar saw otherwise and agreed with the school board saying Grimm’s use of the boy’s restroom “would endanger the safety and privacy of other students.”
Doumar also said the Court must consider Grimm’s claims of “stigma and distress against the privacy interests of the other students” and, by keeping Grimm out of the restroom with which he identifies, they are ”protecting a constitutional right” for “the privacy of the other students.”
“[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 Doumar.
“He has not described his hardship in concrete terms and has supported his claims with nothing more than his own declaration and that of a psychologist who met him only once,” Doumar wrote. A public hearing around the Gloucester County School Board’s policy change was the first time Grimm heard any complaints according to the teen – however since then the School Board claims they have received more complaints.
“The judge’s decision is disappointing but an appeal has already been filed,” said ACLU of Virginia’s Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg. She’s also representing Grimm. “We and Gavin remain focused on achieving a positive outcome at trial and on appeal.”
Grimm still hasn’t heard back about the equal protection argument hearing which could bring him back to court in the coming months.
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