Supreme Court declines challenge to Virginia transgender bathroom decision

The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge on Monday to a Virginia appeals court decision allowing students to use school bathrooms according to their gender identity rather than biological sex.

The challenge was a response to a case originally brought forward by Gavin Grimm, a Virginia teenager born a female but identifying as a male who said that the Gloucester County, Virginia, school system was discriminatory in its bathroom policies. Grimm won that case last year. The Supreme Court shut down the challenge in an unsigned order, but Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas added that they would have heard it.

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The court’s decision means that Grimm’s victory will remain intact.

Grimm’s case was one of several legal battles involving transgender bathroom use that played out at about the same time that the Supreme Court was weighing whether or not to legalize gay marriage. In this one, the school was initially lenient but soon changed its policy, claiming that bathroom use was “limited to the corresponding biological genders.”

When lawyers for the school appealed to the Supreme Court last year, Grimm’s attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union responded by urging the court not to take the case, arguing that it was a Title IX violation to deny any student the bathroom use of his or her choice.

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The appeals court decision favoring Grimm came down shortly after the Supreme Court decided another case involving gay and transgender discrimination, Bostock v. Clayton County. In that case, the court found that discriminating against gay and transgender employees is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Judge Henry Floyd, who wrote the majority opinion in Grimm’s case, said that the logic of Bostock could easily be applied to bathroom disputes. Although Bostock “expressly” excluded a discussion of how bathroom cases should be decided, the landmark Supreme Court case, Floyd said, could easily be used to interpret Title IX, which prevents sexual discrimination in schools.

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