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School board that took trans bathroom case to Supreme Court may change their policy

Gavin Grimm at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City, May 2017.
Gavin Grimm at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City, May 2017. Photo: Shutterstock

The Gloucester County School Board is reconsidering its policy that prevented trans students from using facilities that corresponded to their gender.

Gavin Grimm was a student in Gloucester County in 2014, when he started using the boys’ room during his sophomore year.

The school board held a meeting about him where he was called a “freak” and compared to a dog. The school board’s bathroom policy limited Grimm to using a broom closet that was converted to a bathroom.

Grimm, who graduated in 2017, sued his school district under Title IX, and the trial is set to start in July.

This Tuesday, the school board held a meeting to get public comment about a new policy on transgender students. The proposed policy would allow students who are transitioning to use the appropriate restroom.

Related: Gavin Grimm named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People

Some residents supported the change.

“I’m sorry that folks are uncomfortable, but they’ll get over it,” said Elizabeth Webster.

Kenny Smith, a resident who opposes trans rights, held up a Bible while speaking.

“These are biological facts about chromosomes and where we came from,” he said.

“I promise you there is a God who is going to ask you, ‘Did you make your decision by calling on me or did you make your decision by calling on other folks and other court rulings and other judgments?”

Grimm’s court case has gone as high as the Supreme Court, but was taken off the calendar after the Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidance that schools should allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Grimm’s case was sent back to the U.S. District court and last year the judge refused the school district’s motion to dismiss the case. The judge ruled that Grimm could sue under Title XI, which bans sex-based discrimination.

His attorney at the ACLU of Virginia said that they have already had a settlement conference with the school district, but wouldn’t elaborate.

Former school board member Kim Hensley is a lawyer and she voted against the original bathroom policy.

At this week’s school board meeting, she brought up the cost of Grimm’s lawsuit against the district.

“Just for billable hours, it’s got to be huge,” she said.

Grimm is suing for legal costs and for his high school records to be updated, but the new policy could end the legal fight.

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