First Transgender Bathroom Case Makes It to Supreme Court

News: Government
by Church Militant  •  •  August 30, 2016   

A Virginia school board is questioning lower court rulings

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WASHINGTON ( - A Virginia school board, plagued for months with legal battles over transgender bathroom "rights," is officially taking its case to the U.S. Supreme Court, marking the first time a petition concerning transgender bathroom "rights" has been brought before the High Court.

Weeks after the Supreme Court placed a temporary hold on a lower court ruling from April demanding a Virginia school district accommodate a transgender student's bathroom "rights," attorneys for the Gloucester County School Board are filing a petition seeking a full review of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. Among the multiple considerations filed, the school district is urging the Court to consider the legality of the use of Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law, as the basis of the Department of Education's sweeping mandate demanding all public schools comply with federal transgender guidelines. Title IX, approved in 1972, forbids discrimination based on sex from any educational programs that receive federal funds.

The case in Virginia began after complaints were made to the Gloucester County school district concerning 16-year-old Gavin Grimm's use of the male restrooms and locker rooms. Grimm, a female who legally changed her name, believes herself to be male. In response to parental concerns, the school board installed unisex bathrooms to accommodate Grimm, who in turn claimed the single-stall restrooms made her feel "stigmatized" and were a "daily reminder the school views [her] as 'different.'"

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), acting on behalf of Grimm and her family, sued the school in 2015. After the suit was dismissed by a lower court, the case was brought before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, which sided with the transgender student and her claims of "severe psychological distress."

"When a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex," the court declared, "a school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity."

The Gloucester County School Board petitioned the circuit court to stay its ruling, but their request was denied. In a mid-July appeal, the school board asked the Supreme Court for the legal backing to refuse Grimm access to the boy's restrooms and locker rooms, in light of the upcoming school year, until the school district was able to file a petition with the Court. This request was granted soon after in a 5–3 Court ruling.

In addition to a review of the use of Title IX, Gloucester County school officials are asking the Supreme Court to define, or wholly abolish, the precedent set by the 1997 case Auer v. Robbins, which urges the Court to respect a federal agency's interpretation of its regulations.

The Gloucester County petition comes as a nationwide debate takes place over transgender "rights," with the issue having emerged in funeral homes, foster homes, homeless shelters and prisons. Most recently, a transgender Missouri inmate has filed a federal lawsuit against the Potosi Correctional Center, an all-male facility, for allegedly being denied hormone therapy, permanent hair removal and "gender-affirming canteen items."

Multiple states, health care providers, state governors and pro-family organizations are also currently engaged in court battles against the Obama administration over its mandate issued in May demanding public schools accommodate transgender children or potentially face a loss of federal funding.

The Catholic Church has clearly maintained Her position against the push for gender identity rights, with Pope Benedict XVI declaring in 2012, "The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious." Likewise, Pope Francis has denounced transgender ideology, decrying the "ideological colonization" being forced on children.


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