Federal Appeals Court Again Rules in Favor of Gavin Grimm

A federal appeals court on Wednesday once again ruled in favor of a transgender man who challenged his Virginia school district's bathroom policy.

The American Civil Liberties Union in a press release notes the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled the Gloucester County School District's policies that prohibited students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that did not correspond with their "biological gender" and denied them transcripts that correspond to their gender identity are unconstitutional. The 4th Circuit in its 2-1 decision also said the regulations violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Gavin Grimm was a sophomore at Gloucester County High School when he filed a federal lawsuit against the district's bathroom policy.

The 4th Circuit in 2016 ruled in Grimm's favor.

The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in his case in 2017, but the justices remanded it to the 4th Circuit after President Trump rescinded guidance to public schools that said Title IX requires them to allow trans students to use bathrooms based on their gender identity.

U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia last August ruled in favor of Grimm. The Gloucester County School District appealed the decision.

The 4th Circuit issued its decision two months after the Supreme Court in a landmark ruling said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Supreme Court in 2019 declined to hear a case that challenged a Pennsylvania school district's policy that allows trans students to use bathrooms based on their gender identity.

"All transgender students should have what I was denied: The opportunity to be seen for who we are by our schools and our government," said Grimm in the ACLU press release. "Today's decision is an incredible affirmation for not just me, but for trans youth around the country."

ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Eden Heilman also welcomed the 4th Circuit ruling.

"For the last five years, Gavin has been fighting for transgender students to ensure no one else deals with the discrimination he faced in high school," Heilman said. "The court rightfully stood with him to rule that trans students deserve to go to school with dignity, respect, and equal protection under the law."

Trevor Project Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs Sam Brinton in a statement described the ruling as a "tremendous victory for transgender equality."

"When transgender and non-binary students are denied access to school facilities or documents consistent with their gender identity, they are not only denied basic dignity and respect, but also fundamental human rights," they said. "This decision reaffirms that anti-transgender discrimination is, in fact, illegal under the law."

This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.