Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Transgender Bathroom Access Within Schools

Pride Month is ending on an even happier note following Monday’s Supreme Court announcement that schools can’t force transgender students to use bathrooms that don’t align with their gender identity.

Orion Rummler of nonprofit newsroom The 19th reported that the case of Gloucester County School Board v. Grimm began seven years ago when Gavin Grimm was told he could no longer use the bathroom he had been using and would have to use the girl’s bathroom following protests and abuse from area parents and fellow students. 

Grimm later sued the Virginia school board with the help of the ACLU, insisting he should be able to use a bathroom that matched his gender identity. The case went through various courts, but the saga finally ended when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case and instead left its most recent verdict from a lower court in place.

“Those decisions — which found that the school board in 2014 violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause plus sex-based discrimination law Title IX — are now underscored at the federal level by the Biden administration’s move to extend Title IX protections to gay and trans students,” Rummler reported.

In a statement released through the ACLU, Grimm said, “I am glad that my years-long fight to have my school see me for who I am is over. Being forced to use the nurse’s room, a private bathroom and the girl’s room was humiliating for me and having to go to out-of-the-way bathrooms severely interfered with my education.”

The LGBTQ youth advocacy group the Trevor Project also cheered the Supreme Court’s judgment and Grimm’s role in the historic decision. CEO Amit Paley also pointed out just how life-changing this decision could be, highlighting data from their own prior studies that showed trans and nonbinary youth discriminated against based on which bathroom they used “had more than 1.5 times the odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year.”

Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, agreed with the historic nature of the decision, calling it “a huge win for transgender students.”

According to Rummler, the effects of the verdict could immediately impact other ongoing court trials across the county, including “one case backed by Lambda Legal, in which a Florida student was told he could only use gender-neutral bathrooms at his Ponte Vedra, Florida high school.” The 11th Circuit court trying the case is now considering a new hearing to review and account for the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.

In an interview with The 19th, Paul Castillo, the counsel and students’ rights strategist at Lambda Legal, said the Supreme Court decision should be a wake-up call for lawmakers across the country.

“State legislatures who are still considering laws which exclude LGBTQ people should reconsider, given the uniformity in courts that have said, ‘discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is sex discrimination prohibited by federal law,’” he told Rummler. According to Castillo, it would be “inconceivable” for this new case to not impact any lawsuits against any state that might arise in the future.

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