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Judge compares transgender teen Gavin Grimm to civil rights icons

Gavin GrimmPhoto: ACLU

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — An appeals court judge on Friday compared a Virginia teen who sued his school board for the right to use the boys bathroom to civil and human activists throughout history who have “refused to accept quietly the injustices that were perpetrated against them.”

Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Andre M. Davis used an inconsequential ruling in Gavin Grimm’s case to pen an opinion hailing the 17-year-old as a champion for transgender rights, comparing him to such icons as the Virginia couple that fought to overturn the ban on interracial marriage.

“Today, G.G. adds his name to the list of plaintiffs whose struggle for justice has been delayed and rebuffed; as Dr. King has reminded us, however, ‘the arc of the moral universal is long but it bends toward justice.’ G.G.’s journey is delayed, but not finished,” Davis wrote, referring to a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

Judge Henry F. Floyd joined Davis’ opinion. Both judges were nominated by President Barack Obama.

David Corrigan, an attorney for the Gloucester County School Board, declined to comment. The school board argues that allowing Grimm to use the boys restroom imperils the privacy rights of its students.

Grimm was assigned female at birth but identifies as male. He was allowed to use the boys restrooms at the school for several weeks in 2014. But after some parents complained, the school board adopted a policy requiring students to use either the restroom that corresponds with their birth gender or a private, single-stall restroom.

His case is back in the Richmond-based 4th Circuit after the Supreme Court declined to take it up when President Donald Trump revoked guidance from the Obama administration on transgender bathroom access. The previous guidance said transgender students should be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice.

The 4th Circuit on Friday denied Grimm’s request to hold oral arguments in May to facilitate a decision by his June graduation. It also formally vacated a preliminary injunction that ordered Grimm’s school to let him use the boys restroom. The order had been put on hold by the Supreme Court, so Grimm has not been able to use the boys restroom during his senior year and Friday’s ruling doesn’t change anything.

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Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://twitter.com/aedurkinricher. Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/alanna-durkin-richer .

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