- Grimm welcomes the ruling as an ‘incredible affirmation’ for all trans students in the US.
A US federal court has handed a major victory to trans campaigners, ruling schools shouldn’t ban trans students from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
The 4th Circuit Court was ruling in the long-running case of Gavin Grimm. The transgender man sued his Virginia high school after it banned him from using the boys’ restroom. Subsequently the case became a major test of whether US bathroom bans are legal.
In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled Title IX of the Education Amendments Act protected Grimm. The clause says federally-funded schools can’t exclude or discriminate against students on the basis of sex.
Writing the majority opinion, US Circuit Judge Henry Floyd ruled:
‘At the heart of this appeal is whether equal protection and Title IX can protect transgender students from school bathroom policies that prohibit them from affirming their gender.
‘We join a growing consensus of courts in holding that answer is resoundingly yes.’
‘Incredible affirmation’ for trans youth
Moreover, Floyd slammed the Gloucester County, Virginia school board that tried to ban Grimm from using the boy’s restroom:
‘We are left without doubt that the board acted to protect cisgender boys from Gavin’s mere presence – a special kind of discrimination against a child that he will no doubt carry with him for life.
‘How shallow a promise of equal protection that would not protect Grimm fro the fantastical fears and unfounded prejudice of his adult community.’
The decision cites the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in June that said bosses can’t fire LGBT+ workers. The court decided that discrimination protection ‘on the baiss of sex’ in the 1964 Civil Rights Act extends to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Both judges in the majority are Obama appointees. The dissenting judge, Paul Niemeyer, is an appointee of George W Bush.
In his dissenting opinion Niemeyer argued:
‘Gloucester High School reasonably provided separate restrooms for its male and female students and accommodated transgender students by also providing unisex restrooms that any student could use. The law requires no more of it.’
Meanwhile, Grimm welcomed the verdict as ‘an incredible affirmation’ for US trans youth and he added:
‘All transgender students should have what I was denied: the opportunity to be seen for who we are by our schools and our government.’
Gavin Grimm’s long battle for justice
Gavin Grimm’s case dates back to 2014. It was one of the first transgender bathroom cases to make national headlines. President Barack Obama’s administration officially backed his case.
Back in 2016, the appeals court ruled in Grimm’s favor.
Then in 2017 the Supreme Court was due to hear the case.
However, during President Donald Trump’s first months in office he revoked Obama-era guidance allowing trans students to use the right restroom. As a result the Supreme Court cancelled the hearing and sent the case back to the lower courts.
Last year, a federal judge in Virginia also ruled in Grimm’s favor. Moreover, it said the school district should pay his court fees. And it should update its records to register that he is male.
Meanwhile students’ bathroom access is set to become an election issue again.
Some conservatives want Trump to be even more outspoken and embrace anti-trans policies.
Indeed, Cissie Graham Lynch, daughter of right-wing evangelist Franklin Graham, addressed the issue at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday. She misleadingly and transphobicly said:
‘Democrats pressured schools to allow boys to compete in girls’ sports and use girls’ locker rooms.’
By contrast Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has promised to reinstate guidance protecting trans students.
Moreover, his running mate, Kamala Harris, who has a long record as an LGBT+ ally, previously backed Gavin Grimm in his case.