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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.

Go deeper

Nov 29, 2020 - Health

New York City to reopen public schools with weekly testing

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York on Nov. 28. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

Some New York City schools will be allowed to reopen for in-person learning as early as Dec. 7, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday.

The state of play: De Blasio said schools will no longer be forced to shutter when the city hits a 3% COVID-19 test positivity rate, but he did not specify what the new threshold will be. The school district will mandate weekly tests for 20% of children in each school, and students will not be tested before they return.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."