ACLU Appeals School's Bathroom Ban on Transgender Student

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on October 22, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The ACLU has filed an appeal to the Fourth Circuit in a case involving Gavin Grimm, a transgender student who has sought to overturn a ban against his use of the boys' bathroom at his school. The Gloucester County Public Schools (GCPS) in Virginia put into practice a rule that has the effect of keeping Grimm out of the boys' bathroom, even though he identifies as male.

The ACLU has described the practice as a discriminatory bathroom policy, and has also claimed that the policy is in violation of Equal Protection and Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972.

At the District Level

U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar dismissed Grimm's request for an injunction that would have forced the school to allow him to use the boys' restroom during the academic year while the case was pending in court. In that time, Grimm described his day to day activities as being "humilat[ing]".

Transgender Choices

From the viewpoint of Gloucester County School Board, the decision to ban Grimm from using the boys' bathroom is clear. A rule that was passed by a 6-1 margin by the School Board in December of 2014 requires all students to use either the unisex bathrooms or the bathroom associated with their gender assigned at birth.

Therefore, the plain language of the rule does not appear to be purposefully discriminatory as to Grimm. Further, since this case is already at the appeal stage, additional evidence as possible discriminatory intent on the part of school administrators is unlikely to be considered -- at least for now.

Bathrooms: ACLU Battlegrounds

The ACLU and LGBT activists have declared bathrooms a battleground in the next push for LGBT rights. In the opinion of activists, rules like the one passed in December by the GCPS fall under the broad umbrella of "bathroom bully" rules which deny transgender peoples from using facilities built for genders that differ from their own legally recorded gender at birth. Increasingly, bills have mushroomed in state legislatures.

Now it may be the Fourth Circuit's turn to have a say in the matter.

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