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'Incredible Affirmation': Federal Court Again Sides with Transgender Student Gavin Grimm in Bathroom Case

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that policies segregating trans students from their peers are unconstitutional. 

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has again ruled in favor of former Gloucester County High School student Gavin Grimm, a transgender man who was forced to use restrooms that corresponded with his "biological gender." (Photo: Getty Images)

Gavin Grimm, a transgender man, successfully challenged the Gloucester County, Virginia School Board's policy of forcing trans and non-binary students to use restrooms corresponding with their "biological gender." (Photo: Getty Images) 

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday in favor of a Virginia transgender man who challenged his former school district's policy of forcing students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their "biological gender" as opposed to the gender with which they identify. 

The ACLU, which represented former Gloucester County High School student Gavin Grimm throughout his fight against the county school board, applauded the ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that policies segregating students by birth gender and denying trans students accurate transcripts are an unconstitutional violation of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education.

Grimm, who began his legal battle when he was a 15-year-old sophomore in 2015, hailed the decision. 

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

"Today's decision is an incredible affirmation for not just me, but for trans youth around the country." -Gavin Grimm 

Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, praised the court for affirming the "school's obligation to create an environment that is safe and welcoming for all students." 

Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for the Trevor Project, an LGBTQIA suicide prevention nonprofit, lauded 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," Brinton told The Blade.

Grimm's case made it all the way to the Supreme Court in 2017. However, it was remanded to a lower court after the Trump administration rescinded the Department of Education's previous protections for transgender students under Title IX. U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled in favor of Grimm last August. The Gloucester County School Board subsequently appealed the decision

The Trump administration has targeted transgender people in other policies and actions that have rolled back hard-won civil rights and protections, including—but not limited to—lifting regulatory safeguards in schools, banning trans people from serving in the U.S. military, ending protection for transgender prisoners, and reinterpreting the 1964 Civil Rights Act to exclude trangender employees from workplace discrimination. 

In June, however, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. At the time, it was legal for employers to fire LGBTQIA workers in 29 states

"An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the court's majority opinion. 

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