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Gavin Grimm: Meet the Boy Laverne Cox Shouted Out at the Grammys

Gavin Grimm is a transgender teen whose fight for equality at his Virginia high school is taking him all the way to the Supreme Court.
Image: Gavin Grimm
In this Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 photo, transgender high school student Gavin Grimm poses in Gloucester, Va.Steve Helber / AP

Laverne Cox, the actress best known for her role on "Orange Is the New Black," frequently uses her platform to educate the public about LGBTQ issues — and her Sunday night appearance at the Grammys was no different.

While introducing a performance by Metallica and Lady Gaga, Cox began by telling the audience to "Google Gavin Grimm," adding the popular "hashtag stand with Gavin" for good measure. The actress also posted information about Grimm to her Instagram and Twitter feeds.

But who is Gavin Grimm — and why does Hollywood's most high-profile transgender actress want you to learn about him?

Grimm is a 17-year-old high school senior in Virginia whose fight against the local school board will be argued at the Supreme Court on March 28. The transgender boy's long road to the highest court in the country started at age 15, when he was forced to endure a series of school board meetings at which adults debated whether or not he should be allowed to use the boys bathroom at school.

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"I was in a room full of adults who thought it appropriate to have this sort of vulgar discussion, who would clap or cheer after every derogatory statement, of which there were many," Grimm wrote in a January 2016 blog post for the ACLU.

The Gloucester County School Board ultimately decided that Grimm was not allowed to use the boys bathroom — and he sued.

The American Civil Liberties Union joined his case, and for two years they've been fighting for Grimm's right to use the restroom that matches his current gender identity rather than the gender he was assigned at birth.

ACLU attorney Josh Block told NBC News that Grimm's case has taken on a new significance with President Trump now overseeing federal agencies like the Department of Education.

Image: Gavin Grimm
Gavin Grimm on his front porch during an interview at his home in Gloucester, Va., on Aug. 25, 2015.Steve Helber / AP

"For the last 20 years the overwhelming majority of lower courts have been holding that out civil rights laws against sex discrimination protect transgender people," said Block. "Gavin's case is the first time the Supreme Court will consider the question and reaffirm that transgender people are protected. With a presidential new administration, these protections are more critical than ever."

In a February 3 video posted by the ACLU, Grimm is shown being fitted for a tailored suit to wear to his upcoming court date in Washington.

"Being a high school student, going to the Supreme Court, certainly changed my narrative from the traditional high school experience," said Grimm in the video.

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Gavin's mother Deirdre Grimm also appeared in the video, explaining that she had to learn about trans youth from scratch just like any other parent.

"I didn't even know what transgender was when this all started," said Deirdre Grimm. "One of the first things I read was that almost 50 percent of these kids try to commit suicide. As a parent, that's all you really need to support your child."

If Grimm found it uncomfortable as a 15-year-old to watch parents and school board officials discuss his anatomy in the context of bathroom usage, things are likely to get even more awkward in March — dozens of briefs have been filed in his case, largely from conservative anti-LGBTQ groups like the National Organization for Marriage.

But the case, "Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.," stands to impact every transgender teen and child in the nation: the Supreme Court will use it to decide whether Title IX protections on the basis of sex can be interpreted to include gender identity, and whether Obama-era guidance from the Department of Education can be considered the law of the land.

When the Supreme Court agreed last October to take the case, Lambda Legal CEO Rachel Tiven predicted the resulting verdict will impact much more than bathroom rights.

"While Gavin will be barred from the boys’ bathroom his whole senior year, he is brave enough to speak out so other kids aren’t picked on in the future," said Tiven. "His case isn’t just about which bathroom he can use, it’s about whether trans and queer kids are welcome in school."

On Monday, the hashtag #StandWithGavin began to pick up steam on social media after Cox mentioned it at the Grammys.

In the February 3 video about Grimm, ACLU attorney Chase Strangio said, "In the end, history will definitely remember Gavin as a hero for the trans community."