The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has come to the aid of transgender teenage boy in Virginia who has been told he must use the girls’ bathroom or private facilities or risk disciplinary action if he uses the boys’ bathroom.
Gavin Grimm has been living openly as a boy since the start of the 2014 school year but his school board voted 6-1 on 9 December to stop transgender students at Gloucester County Public Schools using their preferred bathroom.
Instead they will either have to use staff bathrooms or the bathroom of the sex they were assumed to be at birth.
Other students had not objected to Gavin using the boys’ bathroom but some parents had complained to the school board about Gavin using the bathroom.
Now the ACLU has taken up his case and has filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Justice and Department of Education against the school board.
‘Now that the board has passed this policy, school no longer feels as safe and welcoming as it did before,’ Grimm said in a statement circulated by the ACLU.
‘Being singled out is a glaring reminder of my differences and causes me significant discomfort every time I have to use the restroom.’
ACLU LGBT Project attorney Joshua Block said that policies like the one the school board had voted for had the potential to inflict real harm on 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,’ Block said.
‘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.’
Both the Department of Justice and Department of Education have stated this year that existing laws covering sex discrimination should be interpreted as protect transgender people from discrimination.
ACLU Virginia legal director Rebecca Glenberg said she thought Gavin’s case had a good chance of succeeding.
‘Courts have repeatedly found that gender identity discrimination is sex discrimination,’ Glenberg said.
‘Consigning transgender students to segregated bathrooms prevents them from participating in school activities on an equal basis and causes exclusion and ostracism.’
The complaint comes as the US Department of Education releases guideline outlining that transgender people should be able to access the educational resources that are appropriate to their genders in single-sex educational spaces.