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4th Circuit Court sides with former Gloucester Co. student, transgender rights activist Gavin Grimm

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Posted at 1:39 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 16:28:59-04

RICHMOND, Va. - The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm that restroom policies segregating transgender students in schools violates the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education.

The decision comes after a five-year long court battle that began when the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Virginia filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the Gloucester Country School Board for adopting a discriminatory policy requiring Gavin Grimm and other transgender students to use “alternative private” restrooms.

The court ruled on a 2-1 vote that Grimm, now a college student, is protected under federal law that bars sex discrimination in education and the U.S. Constitution's requirement that people be treated equally under the law.

Grimm, who was born as female, but identifies as male, sued the Gloucester County School Board in 2015 when his school stopped allowing him to use the boy’s restroom.

The Gloucester County School Board previously enforced a policy that required transgender students to use a separate restroom from their peers.

Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board for violating his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

A federal court in 2018 sided with transgender rights activist Gavin Grimm saying that federal law protects transgender students from being forced to use separate restrooms.

“All transgender students should have what I was denied: the opportunity to be seen for who we are by our schools and our government. Today’s decision is an incredible affirmation for not just me, but for trans youth around the country,” Grimms said.

“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. 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,” said Eden Heilman, legal director for the ACLU of Virginia.

Grimm's case was previously set to be argued in 2017 before the U.S. Supreme Court but was sent back to lower court for review when the Trump administration rescinded Department of Education’s earlier protections for trans students under Title IX.

The court sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit Court for reconsideration.

Wednesday's decision cited the Supreme Court's landmark June ruling that gay and transgender people are protected under a federal law that bars sex discrimination in employment.

The 4th Circuit ruling potentially could be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Gloucester County School Board says, "Regarding the case of Gloucester County School Board vs. Gavin Grimm and the decision made today from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the School Board has no comment at this time, and is reviewing the decision."

To view court documents, click here.