Supreme Court Sends Transgender Bathroom Case Back to Lower Court

U.S. Supreme Court
A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. |

The United States Supreme Court has decided to return a case regarding a Virginia transgender student born female who wants to use the men's room back to a lower court.

Last October, the highest court in the nation agreed to hear an appeal in the case of Gloucester County School Board v. Gavin Grimm.

However, in an order issued Monday the Supreme Court sent the transgender lawsuit back to the lower court from which it came.

"The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for further consideration in light of the guidance document issued by the Department of Education and Department of Justice on February 22, 2017," read the order.

According to SCOTUSblog, a major factor in the high court sending the case back was due to a Fourth Circuit decision being based off of the Obama Administration's 2015 guidance on allowing transgender students to use the facilities of their choosing.

Gavin Grimm
Student Gavin Grimm, who was barred from using the boys' bathroom at his local high school in Gloucester County, Virginia, U.S. is seen in an undated photo. Grimm was born a female but identifies as a male. |

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration overturned the guidance, thus changing the legal landscape for the case.

"Although G.G. had prevailed in the 4th Circuit and a federal district court had issued an injunction that would allow him to use the boys' bathrooms until the case could be resolved on the merits, the Supreme Court over the summer put the injunction on hold," noted SCOTUSblog.

"And today's ruling means that the school need not provide G.G. access to the boys' bathroom. The court of appeals' decision has been vacated by the Supreme Court, so there is no ruling on which the district court would base an injunction."

In 2015, Grimm filed a lawsuit against Gloucester County Public Schools with the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union over wanting to use the men's restrooms.

At issue was a school board policy requiring students to use facilities corresponding to their birth sex. The high school Gavin attended installed three single-use gender neutral restrooms at its campus as a compromise.

In September 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Robert G. Doumar ruled in favor of Gloucester County, however in April of last year a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit ruled 2–1 against Doumar's decision.

Last August, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 in favor of blocking the Circuit panel's decision from taking effect and in October they agreed to hear arguments on the suit.

Regarding Monday's decision, ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga released a statement expressing disappointment.

"For so many transgender students seeking the simple dignity of being allowed to live their lives fully in school and in other public spaces, justice delayed is justice denied," stated Gastañaga.

"We will continue to stand with Gavin and all transgender people in the continuing fight for full equality under the U.S. Constitution and federal and state nondiscrimination laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex."

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of the school district, celebrated the decision and stated that the Fourth Circuit should "affirm the plain meaning of Title IX, which protects boys' and girls' privacy in locker rooms, showers, and restrooms."

"School officials should be free to protect their students' privacy, safety, and dignity without federal government interference," stated ADF Legal Counsel Kerri Kupec on Monday.

"President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, and Education Secretary DeVos rightly rescinded the faulty directive that the Departments of Education and Justice had issued during the Obama administration. It only makes sense for the Supreme Court to vacate the 4th Circuit's earlier decision and instruct it to reconsider this case."

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