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Supreme Court Sends Gavin Grimm Transgender Rights Case Back to Appeals Court

07 March 2017

Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. would have been the Supreme Court's first discrimination case involving transgender people.

Today, the Supreme Court sent the Grimm case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals following the Trump Administration's decision to rescind protective school guidance for transgender students. The appeals court's decision was stayed pending the Supreme Court's decision, which means that Grimm, now a senior, is still not allowed to use the bathroom that matches his gender identity and birth certificate.

The Obama administration had also cited the court ruling in its transgender lawsuit against North Carolina's bathroom law. But in February, President Donald Trump's administration changed the federal government's position, saying that it wasn't sure how to interpret Title IX and that schools could go back to blocking trans kids from bathrooms.

"We expect and urge all schools to meet their moral and legal responsibility to fully respect and include their transgender students, as thousands of schools around the country have already been doing for years", Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality advocacy group, said after the high court's action.

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Before the Supreme Court passed on the case, 18 states supporting Gavin Grimm filed a friend-of-the-court brief.

Mr Trump's new guidance allows individual states to decide what bathroom facilities students may or may not use. "The outpouring of support for Gavin - and through his case, every trans student in our education system - further illustrates America's abhorrence for discrimination in all its forms, and particularly against the most vulnerable, our children and young people". However, to clarify Title IX's protections for gender identity, the appeals court called on the federal government to define whether Title IX protects against discrimination for gender identity, not just sex at birth, in the USA educational system. SCOTUS scrapped the case to allow the lower courts to reassess based purely on Title IX, as there is now no official White House position. Following the White House's recent decision to remove transgender protections from Justice and Education department documentation, however, the Supreme Court apparently opted out. A federal judge in Texas later issued a nationwide stay against enforcing the Obama administration's interpretation.

A ruling by SCOTUS on Grimm's case would have potentially clarified whether or not transgender students' rights are protected under Title IX. The 4th Circuit should affirm the plain meaning of Title IX, which protects boys' and girls' privacy in locker rooms, showers, and restrooms.

Supreme Court Sends Gavin Grimm Transgender Rights Case Back to Appeals Court