U.S. appeals court sides with transgender student over bathroom access

A Virginia school board acted unlawfully in banning trans student Gavin Grimm from using a bathroom that aligned with his gender identity, the court said.
Gavin Grimm speaks at a news conference n Norfolk, Va., on July 23, 2019.
Gavin Grimm speaks at a news conference n Norfolk, Va., on July 23, 2019.Kristen Zeis / Virginian-Pilot via AP file
By Reuters

WASHINGTON — A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ruled that a Virginia school board acted unlawfully in preventing a transgender student from using a bathroom at his high school that corresponded with his gender identity.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a 2-1 vote that Gavin Grimm, now a college student, is protected under federal law that bars sex discrimination in education and the U.S. Constitution's requirement that people be treated equally under the law.

Grimm's lawsuit dates back to 2015. Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board after officials at a local high school refused to allow him to use the boys' restrooms. Assigned female at birth, Grimm identifies as male.

Judge Henry Floyd, writing for the 4th Circuit, said the school board's actions constituted "a special kind of discrimination against a child that he will no doubt carry with him for life."

The appeals court upheld a 2019 lower court ruling in Grimm's favor.

Bathroom access has become a major issue in the battle over transgender rights, and Grimm's suit has been the most prominent legal case on the subject.

Grimm's case was previously set to be argued in 2017 before the U.S. Supreme Court but was taken off the schedule after President Donald Trump's administration rescinded guidance previously issued by the administration of President Barack Obama regarding bathroom access for transgender students.

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