Published: Tue, March 07, 2017
National | By Miranda Cannon

SCOTUS Sends Back Virginia Transgender Student Case

SCOTUS Sends Back Virginia Transgender Student Case

But in the wake of new guidance from the Trump administration, the Court vacated a lower court's ruling in favor of the student and sent it back for reconsideration.

Grimm sued the school district over their "separate but equal" style accommodations forcing transgender students to use "alternative, private" bathrooms that often require trans students to go out of their way merely to use the restroom.

Monday's decision comes after the Trump administration pulled back federal guidelines issued under the Obama administration advising schools to let students use the bathroom of their chosen gender, not biological birth.

The 4th Circuit in April 2016 sided with Grimm based on the Obama administration's interpretation of the anti-discrimination law.

Grimm won the initial federal appeals court case, with the court ruling that the federal government was probably violating Title IX by forcing him to access a bathroom that did not coincide with his gender identity.

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This pivotal policy decision caused the Supreme Court to cancel the hearing scheduled for later this month in Grimm's case.

"We expect and urge all schools to meet their moral and legal responsibility to fully respect and include their transgender students, as thousands of schools around the country have already been doing for years", Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality advocacy group, said after the high court's action. It was among the most important cases the justices were due to hear during their current term, which ends in June. She said they wanted a final determination from the Supreme Court affirming that Title IX does in fact cover transgender students. Rather, they say, Title IX protects only those discriminated against due to their biological sex. The board's policy blocks the teen, Gavin Grimm, from using the boys' bathroom. SCOTUS believes that the lower courts now need to reassess whether or not Gavin's claims against his school fall under the Title IX clause. "The guidance issued by the previous administration has given rise to several legal questions", education secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement announcing the reversal.

The Obama transgender guidance started in late 2014, when the Department of Education (DOE) decreed that "all students, including transgender students and student who do not conform to sex stereotypes, are protected from sex-based discrimination under Title IX".

LGBT rights lawyer Josh Brock said he is disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision Monday to avoid ruling on his client's case regarding bathroom access but that this is merely a detour - not a defeat.

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