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Court Sides With Transgender Student In Bathroom Case


A federal judge in Virginia has ruled in favor of a transgender teen who sued his local school board after it barred him from using the boys' bathroom at his high school. Here's NPR's Richard Gonzales.

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Gavin Grimm was born female and identifies as a male. In 2014, he attended a public high school in Gloucester County, Va. Grimm asked for and was granted permission to use the boys' bathroom without incident for seven weeks. But adults in the community objected and demanded that he be barred from the boys' bathroom. The Gloucester County School Board then required all students to use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex.

In 2015, Grimm filed suit with the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming that he was a victim of sex discrimination. The case went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it was referred back to the lower court after the Trump administration rescinded Obama-era legal guidance that supported Grimm's claims. In her 30-page opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled that the school board's actions implementing bathroom restrictions violated Grimm's constitutional rights to equal protection, and she rejected a motion to dismiss the case. A very relieved Grimm said his case is not about bathrooms.

GAVIN GRIMM: But really, what we're talking about is navigating discrimination and navigating the world as a trans person and discrimination against trans people as a whole.

GONZALES: In a terse statement released late Tuesday, the Gloucester County School Board said that it is aware of Judge Wright's ruling. It added that, quote, "the school board continues to believe that its resolution of this complex matter fully considered the interests of all students and parents in the Gloucester County school system." In her ruling, Judge Wright ordered lawyers for both sides to schedule a settlement conference within 30 days. As for Gavin Grimm, he graduated from high school last year. He's now 19 years old and is continuing his education, with plans to become a middle school English teacher.

Richard Gonzales, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOUR TET'S "CIRCLING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.