RICHMOND, Va. — The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled in favor of American Civil Liberties Union client Gavin Grimm, deciding that restroom policies segregating transgender students from their peers and denying transgender student accurate transcripts are unconstitutional and violate 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 Grimm and other transgender students to use “alternative private” restrooms.
Grimm, who began his legal fight as a sophomore in high school in 2015, had the following response:
“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.”
“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.
Today’s ruling follows a recent decision from the Supreme Court that it is illegal to fire someone for being LGBTQ. The ACLU argued in the case of Aimee Stephens that federal civil rights laws that prohibit sex discrimination protect LGBTQ people. Today the court once again ruled that Title IX, which also prohibits sex discrimination, applies to transgender students.
Grimm’s case itself reached the Supreme Court in 2017, but was sent back to lower court for review when the Trump administration rescinded Department of Education’s earlier protections for trans students under Title IX.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. In 2019, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to school policies that support transgender students.
Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, issued this statement:
“Transgender students belong in our schools. The court once again ruled that school’s obligation to create an environment that is safe and welcoming for all students includes transgender students.”
Today’s decision is online here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/grimm-v-gloucester-county-school-board-opinion
More information about the lawsuit, including case filings, can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/grimm-v-gloucester-county-school-board