4th Cir. Refuses Stay of Grimm's Transgender Access Bathroom Order

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on July 15, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

By hook or by crook, transgender student Gavin Grimm will get to use the bathroom of his choice, no matter how particular locals may feel about it. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Gloucester County School Board's request to stay a federal ruling in Grimm's favor, on Tuesday.

It looks like Grimm will finally be allowed in, despite the efforts of some. That is, unless the Supreme Court steps in.

Fourth Circuit Draws the Line

The appellate ruling comes just weeks after a federal district ruling by Judge Robert Doumar putting a halt to the Gloucester Board's bathroom policy. That policy states that all transgender students must use bathrooms that correspond to their biological identity at birth or alternatively, use either the nurse's bathroom or some "alternative, private facility."

It's an interesting question implicating equal protection and civil rights issues. Lawyers for Gavin have argued that his rights have been substantially infringed upon by the Board's policies.

Injunctive Relief Sought

The Board based its request for relief on the theory that had the order been implemented, it would "irreparably harm" the community. They argued that allowing Gavin to use the boy's bathroom would amount to an undermining of the Board's authority to effectively manage the school community affairs, would violate the rights of other students who did not wish to share restroom spaces with transgender students, and would lead to worried parents pulling their children out of the area. As readers will no doubt recall, proponents of strictly separate gender bathrooms couched the issue in terms of girls' safety.

Few Options Left

The Board has few options left save appeal to the Supreme Court, which may or may not grant review. An emergency petition to the Supreme Court is currently pending before Chief Justice Roberts. If the issue continues to go on as heated as it has been so far, it could bring up emotions as deep and divided as this nation saw during Brown v. Board of Ed.

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