At the Grammy Awards last night, Laverne Cox urged viewers to google Gavin Grimm while introducing Metallica and Lady Gaga. Here’s why.
Gavin Grimm was a high school student in Virginia who was knew he was different since a young age. “I was dressing 100 percent male, barring when I was forced to do otherwise, since I was 11 or 12,” Grimm told Metro Weekly.
He started using the boys’ bathroom in his sophomore year. The school board held a meeting where Gavin was called a “freak” and compared to a dog that urinates on fire hydrants.
At that meeting, the board passed a policy that said bathrooms “shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders, and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative appropriate private facility banning him from it.” The school installed a toilet in a broom closet and called it a unisex bathroom.
Grimm sued the school under Title IX of the United States Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits discrimination in schools “on the basis of sex,” which the Obama Administration argued was ambiguous and interpreted to include discrimination against transgender people in a series of bureaucratic directives. Grimm was represented by the ACLU and they got the Department of Justice to intervene on his behalf.
The trial court judge dismissed Grimm’s Title IX claim, interpreting Title IX to only ban discrimination against cisgender women. The appeals court overturned that opinion, finding that Title IX is ambiguous and deferring to the executive’s interpretation of the language.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case this year.
The Trump Administration could hurt Grimm’s case by rescinding one of the key Department of Education directives that the Obama Administration issued. The appeals court deferred to the executive’s interpretation of Title IX, and the Supreme Court might not even hear a case whose legal basis has already changed.
The Trump Administration has signaled that it does not agree with the Obama Administration’s interpretation of Title IX. On Friday, the Department of Justice filed a brief withdrawing its support for transgender student protections in a case in Texas. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has given millions to Focus on the Family, an organization that, among other things, opposes the rights of transgender people.