Today, HRC responded to a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in favor of transgender student Gavin Grimm (now a graduate of that school), reaffirming that both the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protect transgender students from discrimination, including being forced to use separate bathroom facilities, and that the school’s refusal to give Gavin a diploma reflecting his name is discrimination as well.
“Every student should feel safe at school, regardless of gender identity. Transgender students are covered by Title IX and the United States Constitution and are entitled to the same rights and protections as every other student,” said Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel. “With the Trump-Pence administration’s barrage of attacks on LGBTQ people in this country, including against students, we are pleased that yet another federal court decision has reaffirmed legal rights and dignity of transgender people. Congratulations to Gavin Grimm and the American Civil Liberties Union on this milestone victory.”
In 2014, the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia voted 6-1 to institute a discriminatory bathroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers after Gavin Grimm, with permission of school officials, began using the restroom that corresponded with his gender identity.
In 2017, the Supreme Court sent the Grimm case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals following the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind protective school guidance for transgender students. Because the Fourth Circuit’s original ruling was heavily based on the Obama Administration’s guidance, the Supreme Court asked the lower court to revisit the case and rule on the underlying statutory question regarding the scope of Title IX. Many federal courts, including the court today, have affirmed that Title IX and other federal nondiscrimination laws prohibit discrimination against transgender people, including with respect to restroom access.
Today’s decision echoes a 2016 ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District that held “a policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender non‐conformance, which in turn violates Title IX.”