Case is highest-profile battle before court since death of Scalia
WASHINGTON – Wading into the controversy over transgender rights, the U.S. Supreme Court Friday agreed to hear a case in which a Virginia school board is fighting to keep a transgender high school student who was born female from using the boys’ bathroom.
The justices said they would hear the appeal from the Gloucester County school board in rural, coastal Virginia sometime next year in the highest-profile case the court agreed to review since the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
The high court will review a federal appeals court ruling in favor of Gavin Grimm, now a 17-year-old Gloucester High School senior.
The American Civil Liberties Union and its Virginia chapter, representing Grimm, argued the school board’s policy violates Title IX, a federal law barring sex discrimination by schools receiving federal funding.
“It is disappointing that Gavin will probably have to finish out his high school career under this harmful, humiliating policy,” Josh Block, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT project, said Friday.
“These sorts of discriminatory policies stigmatize and isolate transgender students like Gavin just because of who they are. We look forward to presenting Gavin’s case to the Supreme Court as the next step in the fight to ensure fairness and equality for trans people across the country.”
The Gloucester County school board asked the Supreme Court to hear the case after a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision rejecting the board’s request to halt a district court’s preliminary injunction requiring Grimm be allowed to use the boys’ bathroom until a definitive court ruling in the case.
“Depriving parents of any say over whether their children should be exposed to members of the opposite biological sex, possibly in a state of full or complete undress, in intimate settings deprives parents of their right to direct the education and upbringing of their children,” the board argued in court papers.
In early August, the Supreme Court issued a stay halting the district court order until the high court decided whether to review the case.
With Friday’s decision to take up the case, the stay will remain in place until the Supreme Court issues a decision.
The ACLU quoted Grimm as saying Friday: “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.
“While I’m disappointed that I will have to spend my final school year being singled out and treated differently from every other guy, I will do everything I can to make sure that other transgender students don’t have to go through the same experience.”