Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Over Transgender Students’ Bathroom Rights, Letting Lower-Court Victory for Gavin Grimm Stand

(Courtesy of American Civil Liberties Union)

The Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear a high-profile feud over the rights of transgender youth in public schools, letting stand a lower court victory for a Virginia student whose school barred him from using the boys’ restroom.

The decision comes a year after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Gloucester County School Board discriminated against Gavin Grimm, the transgender student, when it prevented him from using school restroom facilities that align with his gender identity. Instead, Grimm was offered a separate, single-stall restroom, a move his attorneys argued was degrading and stigmatizing.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case lets Grimm’s Fourth Circuit victory stand but it does not establish a national precedent at a moment of heightened contention over the rights of transgender students in schools across the country. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito indicated in the order that they would have heard the case in which the Fourth Circuit found that Gloucester educators had violated Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in public schools, and the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

The Supreme Court was set to hear the case in 2017 but instead sent it back to the lower court after the Trump administration reversed Obama-era federal guidance protecting transgender students’ rights to use public school bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Grimm, now 22, cheered the news on Monday on Twitter after fighting in court for six years.

“There are just too many people to tag,” Grimm tweeted. “Too many people played integral roles in our success and too many people who loved me so much. I have nothing more to say but thank you, thank you, thank you. Honored to have been part of this victory.”

“Transgender students belong in our schools,” Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who represented Grimm, said in a news release. “The court once again ruled that school’s obligation to create an environment that is safe and welcoming for all students includes transgender students.”

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