US | Major court victory for transgender students


Gavin Grimm (Facebook)

Gavin Grimm, who’s become a symbol of transgender activism in the US, has scored a victory in the fight for equal access to bathrooms in schools.

On Tuesday, a federal court in Virginia rejected the Gloucester County School Board’s attempt to dismiss the transgender former student’s discrimination case against it.

Grimm sued the school district after he was barred from using the boys’ bathroom at his high school when he came out as trans. At one school board hearing on the issue he was publicly called “a freak” and compared to a dog.

Significantly, the court ruled that both the US Constitution and the 1972 Title IX law protect transgender students from being excluded from common restrooms. Judge Arenda Wright said that the school board had “singled out and stigmatised Mr Grimm.”

Title IX bars education discrimination on the basis of sex, a definition that LGBTQ activists, and the courts, say includes gender identity but opponents – including the Trump administration – argue does not.

“I feel an incredible sense of relief,” said Grimm after the ruling. “After fighting this policy since I was 15 years old, I finally have a court decision saying that what the Gloucester County School Board did to me was wrong and it was against the law.”

He added: “I was determined not to give up because I didn’t want any other student to have to suffer the same experience that I had to go through.”

Joshua Block, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU, which represented Grimm, welcomed the court’s decision, noting that “these sorts of discriminatory policies do nothing to protect privacy and only serve to harm and humiliate transgender students.”

The judge has ordered the two parties to meet in the next 30 days to come to a settlement in the matter. It is not yet clear if the school board will fight the ruling.

Last year, Grimm was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

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