Virginia School Looks to Supreme Court for Transgender Bathroom Ruling

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

A Virginia school board is asking the United States Supreme Court to rule that a transgender male student may not be allowed to use the boy’s bathroom when school opens again in September until a final decision can be made on the case by the high court.

An emergency appeal was filed by the Gloucester County School Board with Chief Justice John Roberts.  The appeal looks to prevent student Gavin Grimm from using the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity when school starts up this fall, arguing that it would “put parents’ constitutional rights in jeopardy.”

“Depriving parents of any say over whether their children should be exposed to members of the opposite biological sex, possibly in a state of full or complete undress, in intimate settings deprives parents of their right to direct the education and upbringing of their children,” attorneys for the school board wrote.

The board went on to say that it is “natural to assume” that parents would choose to take their children out of school as a result of the issue.

Chief Justice Roberts has the ability to act on the appeal alone or request the full court to consider it.  If the full court becomes involved, the school board must convince five justices in order to be successful, writes Jess Bravin for The Wall Street Journal.

While Grimm was born as a female, he identifies as male.  The 17-year-old rising senior had previously been allowed to use the boys’ bathroom at the school for a few weeks in 2014.  However, school officials say they received several complaints from parents concerning Grimm’s use of the bathroom.

“It shall be the practice of the (Gloucester County Public Schools) to provide male and female restroom and locker room facilities in its schools, and the use of said facilities shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders, and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative private facility,” the school board said in its ruling on the issue.

In response, Grimm sued the school board, saying it was a violation of federal education discrimination laws to refuse him entry to the boys’ bathroom.

In April, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the side of Grimm.  The ruling stated that the federal judge who had previously denied Grimm’s Title IX discrimination claim said that he had ignored a US Department of Education rule that said transgender students who attend public schools must be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity or face losing their federal funding, writes Moriah Balingit for The Washington Post.

As a result, the court reinstated the Title IX claim and it was then sent back to the district court for further review.

The case has been watched ever since North Carolina introduced a new law that banned transgender individuals from using public restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.  Several cases involving the law are currently pending in federal courts throughout the state.