Gloucester County School Board to pay ACLU’s legal costs over transgender bathroom lawsuit


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY/AP) — The Gloucester County School Board has agreed to pay $1.3 million in legal costs to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ACLU spent six years representing Gavin Grimm, who sued over the school board’s transgender bathroom ban. Grimm’s suit against the school board ended in June after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the board’s appeal to reinstate its bathroom policy.

“The resolution in Gavin’s case is yet another reason school boards across Virginia should adopt the model policies from the Virginia Department of Education,” said Eden Heilman, legal director at the ACLU of Virginia. “Discrimination has no place in Virginia schools, and Virginia taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for school boards who act in disregard for the law.”  

Grimm was a 15-year-old student at Gloucester High School when he was banned from using the boys bathroom. He was told that he either had to use the use restrooms that corresponded with his biological sex or private bathrooms.

After filing a federal lawsuit, his case spent six years weaving through the court system.

Lower courts ruled that the policy discriminated against Grimm because he was barred from the boys’ bathroom. In 2020, a three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that Grimm’s constitutional rights were violated when he was banned from using the boys bathrooms.

The Supreme Court then left that decision in place saying the Board’s policy was unconstitutional. However, two justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas voted to hear the board’s appeal.

“Rather than allow a child equal access to a safe school environment, the Gloucester School Board decided to fight this child for  five years in a costly legal battle that they lost,” said Gavin Grimm. “I hope that this outcome sends a strong message to other school systems, that discrimination is an expensive losing battle.”  

Grimm says he hopes the legal costs send a message that discrimination is an expensive and losing battle.

The Board’s 2014 policy on using the restroom that matches a person’s biological sex was rescinded on August 23 in a 5-1 vote.

The Gloucester School Board issued a response Thursday, stating, “The insurance provider for the Gloucester County School Board has addressed the Plaintiff’s request for attorney fees and costs resulting from the Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board litigation. The School Board has no further comment on this matter.”

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