Aug 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Court deems Virginia school board's transgender bathroom ban unconstitutional

Gavin Grimm attends 2019 DoSomething Gala

Gavin Grimm attends 2019 DoSomething Gala in New York City. Photo: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a Virginia school board's transgender bathroom ban is unconstitutional — a win for transgender rights proponents, AP reports.

Context: Gavin Grimm sued Gloucester County School Board after he was told to use private restrooms or bathrooms that did not match his gender identity while at school.

  • Grimm first filed the suit in 2015. The appeals court previously backed Grimm in 2016, and the case made its way to the Supreme Court in 2017.
  • The Supreme Court hearing was canceled and the case was sent back to the lower courts after President Trump revoked an Obama-era policy that allowed students to choose bathrooms based on their gender identity.

The state of play: The panel backed a decision made last year by a federal judge in Norfolk. The judge ruled that Grimm's rights were violated under Title IX, which protects people from discrimination based on sex.

  • The appeals court wrote that the school sent Grimm "to special bathrooms that might as well have said ‘Gavin’ on the sign," AP writes.
  • Wednesday's ruling cites the Supreme Court’s landmark June decision affirming LGBTQ workplace rights.

What they're saying: “For the last five years, Gavin has been fighting for transgender students to ensure no one else deals with the discrimination he faced in high school," said Eden Heilman, legal director for the ACLU of Virginia. "The court rightfully stood with him to rule that trans students deserve to go to school with dignity, respect, and equal protection under the law."

  • “All transgender students should have what I was denied: the opportunity to be seen for who we are by our schools and our government," Grimm responded after the 2-1 decision. "Today’s decision is an incredible affirmation for not just me, but for trans youth around the country.” 

The other side: Cissie Graham Lynch, daughter of evangelical preacher Billy Graham, claimed that faith was "under attack" by Democrats as they "pressured schools to allow boys to compete in girls' sports and use girls' locker rooms," during the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night, Buzzfeed reports.

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