Court sides with Gloucester transgender teen Gavin Grimm in bathroom case

Gavin Grimm_298076

FILE This Tuesday Aug. 25, 2015 file photo shows Gavin Grimm on his front porch during an interview at his home in Gloucester, Va. A U.S. appeals court has overturned a policy barring a transgender student from using the boys’ restrooms at his Virginia high school. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court […]

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A federal judge in Norfolk has sided with a transgender teenager from Gloucester County whose battle to use the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity sparked a national dialogue about transgender rights. 

U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen denied the Gloucester County School Board’s motion to dismiss Grimm’s civil rights lawsuit, maintaining that Title IX and the Constitution protect transgender students from exclusionary bathroom polices. 

“I feel an incredible sense of relief,” said Grimm, 18, who graduated high school last year. “After fighting this policy since I was 15 years old, I finally have a court decision saying that what the Gloucester County School Board did to me was wrong and it was against the law.”

Wright Allen, an Obama appointee who previously overturned Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban, ordered that the lawyers for the school board and Grimm must reach a settlement within 30 days.  

Grimm’s fight began back in 2014, when he was barred from using the boys restroom at Gloucester High School and told to use a unisex bathroom. Grimm was born a female but identifies as male.

In 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the case against the school board on behalf of Grimm, claiming the school board’s bathroom policies were discriminatory. The case eventually reached the appellate level, where the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Gloucester School Board policy violated Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination in schools. 

Grimm was able to the boys’ restroom for about five months, until the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the ruling while it decided to hear the case.  The Supreme Court did eventually chose to hear the case, but when the Trump administration withdrew an Obama era directive that said students should use the bathroom of their gender identity, the high court sent the case back down to circuit court. 

Then, when the 4th Circuit Court decided to send the case down to district court in July of last year, the school board argued for the case to be dismissed. 

The ACLU released a statement from Grimm Tuesday night:

I feel an incredible sense of relief. After fighting this policy since I was 15 years old, I finally have a court decision saying that what the Gloucester County School Board did to me was wrong and it was against the law. I was determined not to give up because I didn’t want any other student to have to suffer the same experience that I had to go through.”

The Gloucester County School Board released this statement Tuesday night: 

The School Board is aware of the District Court’s decision denying the motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint. The School Board continues to believe that its resolution of this complex matter fully considered the interests of all students and parents in the Gloucester County school system. 

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