A Teenager Just Won a Major Victory for the Rights of Transgender Students

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A U.S. District Court judge in Virginia has ruled that transgender teen Gavin Grimm has a valid claim to sex discrimination under both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause, after his former school board implemented a policy to prevent him from using the boys’ restroom at his school.


Started in 2014, the policy said that bathrooms “shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders, and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative appropriate private facility.” Because this is a cruel and isolating thing to do to a teenager who just realized that he’s transgender, Grimm—who graduated from high school in 2017—refrained from using the bathroom at school, and as a result developed a urinary tract infection. With the help of the ACLU, he sued the school board in 2015.

“As Mr. Grimm contends, attempting to draw lines based on physiological and anatomical characteristics proves unmanageable,” District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen wrote in her ruling. “[H]ow would the Board’s policy apply to individuals who have had genital surgery, individuals whose genitals were injured in an accident, or those with intersex traits who have genital characteristics that are neither typically male nor female?”

She added that the term ‘biological gender’ “allowed the Board to isolate, distinguish, and subject to differential treatment any student who deviated from what the Board viewed a male or female student should be, and from the physiological characteristics the Board believed that a male or female student should have.”

Wright Allen ruled ordered Grimm’s lawyers and the Gloucester County School Board to enter a settlement conference within thirty days. The Supreme Court was set to hear the case in March of last year, but sent it back down to the appeals court after the Trump administration reversed the federal government’s position on transgender rights. In August, the ACLU and Grimm amended his complaint after he graduated from high school.

“The district court’s ruling vindicates what Gavin has been saying from the beginning,” ACLU senior staff attorney Joshua Block said in a statement following the ruling. “These sorts of discriminatory policies do nothing to protect privacy and only serve to harm and humiliate transgender students.”

“I feel an incredible sense of relief,” Grimm said in a statement released by the ACLU. “After fighting this policy since I was 15 years old, I finally have a court decision saying that what the Gloucester County School Board did to me was wrong and it was against the law. I was determined not to give up because I didn’t want any other student to have to suffer the same experience that I had to go through.”


You can read the ruling in its entirety below:

News editor, Splinter