In a stunning decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Virginia high school junior Gavin Grimm will not be permitted to use the boy’s room when he returns to school, a decision that is temporary, pending further hearings.
The vote by the justices was 5-3, with Democratic-appointed Justice Stephen Breyer joining with the court’s four Republican appointees to temporarily remove the ban on the school system, which was put in place to allow Grimm, 17, to use the bathroom of his choice in accordance with Obama Administration guidance.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented and said they would not have put the ruling on hold.
In April, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that refusing to allow students to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity is a violation of a federal law known as Title IX, which bans schools receiving federal funds from discriminating based on sex.
The landmark ruling cited a letter from the federal Department of Education, advising that “a school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.” The appeals court found that to be a reasonable interpretation of Title IX.
The Obama administration’s lawsuit against North Carolina’s House Bill 2 law, which forces trans people to use the bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates, also cites that interpretation, as does a letter advising the nation’s schools on transgender policy.
Grimm was assigned female at birth but identifies as male. He has undergone hormone therapy and has legally changed his name.
It’s anticipated that the school board will file a request with the Supreme Court later this month to overturn the lower court decision. No action is expected on that before the court reconvenes in October.