School Board Can Appeal Order Greenlighting Trans Bathroom Lawsuit

Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

A Virginia school board will appeal a federal judge’s ruling allowing a transgender student to challenge the district’s bathroom access policies.

U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen, who found that a transgender student named Gavin Grimm can sue the Gloucester County School Board under existing civil rights law in late May, sanctioned the request to appeal, which was supported by all parties to the case. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court based in Richmond, Virginia, will hear the dispute.

Wright Allen needed to certify the request, as most appeals cannot proceed until a case is definitively resolved in a trial court. Her May 22 decision simply rejected the school district’s argument that the case should be dismissed, since no federal law compels administrators to grant students access to the bathroom of their choice. They will make the same request of the 4th Circuit. (RELATED: Religious Dissenters Race To Claim Masterpiece Decision In Ongoing Court Battles)

The 4th Circuit must also agree to review the issue.

The case was occasioned when Grimm, who is a transgender man, began using the boy’s bathroom at his public high school. He was forbidden from using the men’s facilities after the parents of other students petitioned the school board to adopt a binary bathroom policy. As a result, Grimm was told to use the women’s restroom, or alternative single-stall facilities.

Grimm’s case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016, but the justices sent the case back to a lower court after the Trump administration repealed Obama-era guidance requiring public schools to let transgender students use the lavatories corresponding to their gender identity, mooting a central aspect of the dispute.

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