RICHMOND, Virginia – The United States Supreme Court has said that a Virginia school board can prevent a transgender man from using the boys’ toilets at his school until he decides whether to intervene in his case.
The High Court on Wednesday agreed to allow the Gloucester County School Board to bar Gavin Grimm from accessing the bathroom that matches his current gender identity until judges decide whether or not to review a decision of the court of appeal in his case.
The case is the first time the fight over transgender rights in the bathroom has reached the Supreme Court, and the subject came in the heat of the US presidential election in which the composition of the court is a central issue. .
Grimm will be kicked out of the boys‘ bathroom when he returns to school in September. Grimm was born a woman but identifies as a man. He was allowed to use the boys’ toilets at school for several weeks in 2014.
A school board lawyer declined to comment on the Supreme Court order.
Grimm’s lawyer Joshua Block said he and his client were disappointed with the order and “disappointed that Gavin has to start another school year being stigmatized and separated from his peers because of this policy.”
The Gloucester County School Board had filed an emergency appeal with Chief Justice John Roberts, arguing that allowing Grimm to enter the boys’ bathroom “would jeopardize the constitutional rights of parents.”
“Depriving parents of all control over whether their children should be exposed to members of the opposite biological sex, possibly in a state of complete or complete undressing, in an intimate setting deprives parents of their right to direct the education and upbringing of their children, ”school board lawyers wrote to the Supreme Court.
Grimm sued the school board, arguing he violated federal education discrimination laws by denying him access to the boys’ bedroom.
The 4th US Court of Appeals sided with Grimm in April.
The school board has announced plans to ask the Supreme Court to review the appeal court’s decision by the end of August. The high court has temporarily suspended Grimm’s federal discrimination lawsuit.
The eight-member Supreme Court voted 5-3 to stay the lower court’s order. Judges Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan have reportedly rejected the school board’s request to be able to prevent a student from exercising their choice to use a bathroom, according to the order. Justice Stephen Breyer, of the Liberal wing of the Supreme Court, joined his more conservative members in temporarily siding with the school board. Breyer wrote in a one-sentence explanation that he did so out of courtesy to preserve the status quo until the Supreme Court had a chance to consider the matter in more detail.
Grimm’s case has gained national attention since North Carolina enacted a hotly contested state law prohibiting transgender people from using public toilets that match their gender identity. Several cases concerning this law are currently pending in federal courts. The law has drawn backlash from business leaders and some public institutions like the University of North Carolina, who have said it will not support the state in law enforcement.
The legal battles in Virginia and North Carolina have given transgender people new visibility on the national stage.
Last week, Sarah McBride became the first openly transgender person to speak at a major party convention, the Democratic National Convention.