The Supreme Court announced last week that it will hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old transgender student who was barred from using the boys’ restroom at his Virginia high school.
The ACLU sued the Gloucester County School Board arguing that their discriminatory bathroom policy was a violation of Title IX, which safeguards against sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding.
While the district court denied the student’s request for an injunction, the ruling was reversed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and sent back to the district court for additional consideration. In June, the district court blocked the school board’s policy, at which point the board appealed to the Supreme Court. In August, the Court voted 5-3 to issue a stay on the lower court ruling, prohibiting Grimm from using the boys’ restroom until they could consider the case.
According to the Department of Education’s 2014 guidelines, denying a transgender student access to the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity is a violation of Title IX, though many schools are struggling to comply in the face of conflicting court guidance and state laws, including the North Carolina “bathroom bill” that requires people to use the restroom that matches the sex on their birth certificate
When President Obama reminded public schools in May that barring transgender students from restrooms could risk the loss of federal funding, over 20 states filed suit, insisting that the administration was overstepping its authority with such a mandate.
In August, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary, nationwide injunction blocking the Obama administration from enforcing guidelines that extended protections under Title IX to transgender students in public schools, highlighting the critical need for the Court to weigh in on this issue.