On Monday, the Supreme Court announced via a one-sentence order that it would no longer hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen who sued his school board for the right to use the bathroom corresponding with his gender identity. The case was to be heard March 28.
The court’s decision follows the Department of Education and the Justice Department’s decision to withdraw an Obama administration directive to schools to allow students to choose the bathroom that suits their gender identity, rather than a definition of biological sex. Both the school board and Grimm’s attorneys had requested the court review the case even in light of the change. Now, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia will decide whether or not Title IX rights extend to transgender students.
From the AP:
The administration action triggered legal wrangling that ended with Monday’s order. In essence, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, had relied on the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX to side with Grimm. The appeals court accepted the administration’s reading of the law without deciding for itself what the law and a related regulation on same-sex bathrooms and locker rooms mean.
No appeals court has yet undertaken that more independent analysis, and the Supreme Court typically is reluctant to do so without at least one appellate opinion to review, and usually more than one.
Transgender rights are under legal attack across the country, with several laws, including HB2 in North Carolina which requires people to use restrooms that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates, being challenged in court.
Now Grimm, who notably has a male birth certificate, will likely be forced to use the women’s restroom until he graduates from Gloucester High School. He would, ironically, be allowed to use the men’s restroom in North Carolina under HB2.
Update: In a statement, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT Project and Grimm’s senior counsel Joshua Block said the following:
“Nothing about today’s action changes the meaning of the law. Title IX and the Constitution protect Gavin and other transgender students from discrimination. While we’re disappointed that the Supreme Court will not be hearing Gavin’s case this term, the overwhelming level of support shown for Gavin and trans students by people across the country throughout this process shows that the American people have already moved in the right direction and that the rights of trans people cannot be ignored. This is a detour, not the end of the road, and we’ll continue to fight for Gavin and other transgender people to ensure that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”