The Women’s Law Project signed on to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States filed by the National Women’s Law Center in support of teenager Gavin Grimm in a landmark transgender right case.
Background: “The bathroom issue”
One day in 2014, a transgender teenage boy named Gavin Grimm decided to use the boy’s bathroom at Gloucester High School in Virginia. He had already begun re-introducing himself as a boy and had switched to using the men’s room in other public spaces when he decided to use the boy’s room at school.
“I went in, went out, same deal as always,” Grimm told the Washington Post last year. “It was like, ‘Okay, great — I can use the bathroom now.’ ”
Echoing the experience of other transgender students across the country, Grimm’s decision to use the bathroom that matched his gender identity sparked a years-long conflict with his school. Later this month, Grimm’s case is headed to the Supreme Court of the United States, in what is now seen as a landmark case for transgender rights.
G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board comes just weeks the president reversed his campaign trail position and revoked a 2016 guideline that advised schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. While rescinding the guideline did not effectively change the law—the guideline simply clarified for school administrators that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 covers gender identity in addition to sexual orientation, an interpretation based on 10 years of case law—it did signal an unsettling lack of support for transgender rights under the regressive federal agenda.
The argument against discriminatory bathroom policies
From the brief: Amici submit this brief because the policy at issue—which bars a transgender boy from using the same restroom facilities as other boys—rests on the same sort of discriminatory stereotyping that historically has been used to justify discrimination against women in schools and the workplace… Title IX rests, in substantial part, on the rejection of gender stereotypes—that is, on rejection of the insistence that an individual’s behavior and appearance must match the stereotype associated with his or her gender. (Read the full brief here.)
Oral arguments are scheduled for March 28. However, the Gloucester County School Board recently suggested a postponement. The delay was suggested ostensibly so the federal government has more time to weigh in given the confusion it itself created by suddenly withdrawing the 2016 guidance. It must be noted such delay, if granted, will give the school board a presumed benefit of including the opinion of Judge Neil Gorsuch, the president’s nominee to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin March 20. Grimm and his team have requested to proceed as scheduled.
The Women’s Law Project represented Rainbow Alliance, an LGBTQIA student group at the University of Pittsburgh, in litigation against the school under the Pittsburgh Fair Practices Ordinance on behalf of transgender and gender nonconforming students. This case has been settled.
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