NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — On Thursday night, Gloucester County’s Gavin Grimm sat at the Newport News School Board meeting and listened to almost four hours of speakers.
“I just had to listen to this garbage and hatefulness,” Grimm said.
It brought him back to the days when he was 15 years old and transitioning to being a male. He was ostracized, and Gloucester County Public Schools would not allow him to use the boy’s restroom.
“Last night was stressful and it was upsetting to have to be there,” he added.
The Newport News School Board convened Thursday for a special meeting to possibly reconsider adopting state guidelines ensuring protections for transgender and nonbinary students. The board ultimately voted to adopt the policy, a reversal from its original decision earlier this month.
The same can’t be said for the Chesapeake School Board, which has chosen not to adopt the state model policy. Multiple other divisions across the state also decided not to adopt the policy.
“That is a devastating and a disgusting thing to have to reckon with in high school, in middle school or in elementary school,” Grimm said. “It doesn’t matter. It is absolutely despicable that the Chesapeake School System has put this on their students.”
Grimm took his fight all the way to the Supreme Court and won. A court ruled Thursday that Gloucester schools would need to pay for Grimm’s $1.3 million in legal fees with the ACLU. He says if school officials need any guidance on policies regarding transgender and nonbinary students, all they have to do is look to the courts.
“We have already fought this court case,” Grimm added. “If Chesapeake was worried about political reasons, they could have just pointed the finger at my case and said, ‘We have to do it because the court said so.'”
The General Assembly voted to have school systems protect the rights of transgender students to be implemented this fall. Grimm the guidelines should have been more specific.
The state superintendent of education has said the state won’t have repercussions for divisions that don’t adopt the policy, but the schools could face lawsuits from families of students.
“I think they could have done a lot better in outlining what the consequences are if you refuse to follow the policy,” he said. “If there is any wiggle room at all to say that potentially that we don’t have to do this they are not going to do this.”
Grimm says although his personal fight in court is over, but he’s not done fighting for the rights of others.
“It’s very sad because it just shows the commitment that these people have to making vulnerable children miserable,” Grimm said.