U.S. Supreme Court to rule on transgender policy

WASHINGTON, U.S. - For the first time, the United States Supreme Court has decided to listen to the other party and will rule in the case of a Virginia school board which prevented a transgender ...


• Conservatives sought to protect students’ privacy rights

• 20 states sued to block Obama administration’s sex of choice guidance

• A U.S. district court issued injunction on Obama administration’s guidance

WASHINGTON, U.S. - For the first time, the United States Supreme Court has decided to listen to the other party and will rule in the case of a Virginia school board which prevented a transgender teenager from using boys’ bathroom at his school. The Supreme Court will hear the appeal from the Gloucester County school board in April and will rule in June next year.

Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old high school senior in Gloucester County was identified as a boy and eventually sought to use the boys' bathroom in school. 

However, the school prevented it following complaints from other students’ parents. Grimm, who is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) appealed to a lower court. Later, the ruling was challenged at the Supreme Court. But in the meantime, Grimm was forced to use a separate toilet as the case stretched further. Steven Shapiro, ACLU’s Legal Director said, “We want to get it resolved for his benefit as fast as we can.”

Although the court remains focused on discrimination in education, Shannon Minter, Legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights suggests that the court’s ruling could impact the other forms of bias against transgender men and women, such as in employment.

Minter, who is also a transgender man said, “For transgender people, the stakes of this case are incredibly high. Whatever the court rules in Grimm may ensure that transgender people are accepted and included as equal members of our society, or it may relegate them to outsiders for decades to come.”

Grimm in a statement said, “I never thought that my restroom use would ever turn into any kind of national debate. The only thing I ever asked for was the right to be treated like everyone else.”

The school board’s Chairman, Troy Anderson welcomed the court’s decision to hear the case. He said that the “board’s policy carefully balances the interests of all students and parents.” 

Conservative groups have also backed the board as they claim it to be students’ privacy rights. The board also garnered support from 20 states, 114 congress members and former Education Secretary William Bennett, who argued that under Title IX, the term ‘sex’ refers to an ‘immutable physiological characteristic, not an individual's self-reported 'internal sense of gender.’

Gary McCaleb, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group said, “In light of the right to bodily privacy, federal law should not be twisted to require that a male be given access to the girls' facilities, or a female to the boys' facilities.”

The transgender fight further intensified when North Carolina passed a law in March backed by Republicans that required people to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender at birth in government buildings and public schools. The North Carolina law also blocked local measures protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

In May, the Obama administration issued a nationwide guidance which allowed transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. But the guidance enraged many conservatives and prompted a Republican-led legal effort to fight it. Twenty-three states sued to block the guidance. A U.S. district court judge in August issued a nationwide injunction preventing the administration from enforcing the guidance.

 

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