Supreme Court pass on transgender bathroom case frustrates conservatives

The Supreme Court took a pass Monday on a legal challenge over shared restrooms for transgender students at a Virginia high school, fueling frustration among right-tilting court-watchers eager for the conservative majority to resolve the intensifying legal clash over gender identity.

The court’s denial of certiorari allowed the lower court ruling to stand in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender male — a biological female identifying as a male — who sued the Gloucester County School Board for barring him from using the boys’ restroom, marking the third time the high court has refused to take up transgender access to public school facilities.

Josh Block, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union LGBTQ & HIV Project, said that in each of the cases, the appeals courts ruled in favor of transgender students seeking to use restrooms and other facilities based on their gender identity as opposed to their sex at birth.

“This an incredible victory for Gavin and for transgender students around the country,” Mr. Block said in a statement. “Our work is not yet done, and the ACLU is continuing to fight against anti-trans laws targeting trans youth in states around the country.”

Indeed, the court’s silence on gender identity discrimination since its 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia — which centered on employment — has created a legal void quickly being filled by conflicting rules from the Biden administration and red-state legislatures on transgender athletes and access to gender transition procedures and public facilities.

“Clearly, there’s a huge split in the country,” said Emilie Kao, director of The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society. “There have been over 100 bills brought in the state legislatures to protect privacy, safety and fairness by using biological sex as the basis for policies in schools.”

Litigation has inevitably followed, leading legal analysts to agree that it’s not a matter of if the court will revisit the gender identity issue, but when.

“I’m somewhat optimistic that the court will take a case that raises the issue in the next year or so,” said Gail Heriot, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law.

Mr. Grimm sued in June 2015 after the school board refused to let him use the boys’ facilities, instead offering him a private restroom, which he said was stigmatizing. 

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Mr. Grimm, now 22, reasoning that the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in Bostock justified striking down the Gloucester County school system’s policy. 

Critics countered that Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who wrote the majority opinion in Bostock, specifically said the decision applied only to Title VII, not to “sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes.” He said the justices “do not prejudge any such question today.”

“[Gorsuch] said this only applies to Title VII on employment; this doesn’t apply to Title IX on bathrooms and sports, but obviously courts are applying it that way, the Biden administration is applying

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Supreme Court refuses to hear transgender bathroom case, a win for student Gavin Grimm

The Supreme Court on Monday handed the LGBT rights movement another victory, declining to hear an appeal that challenged the rights of transgender students to use the bathroom of their choosing.

The high court said it would not take a case involving Gavin Grimm and the school board of Gloucester County, Virginia. That board had refused Grimm the choice to use a boys bathroom in his school in a policy that also applied to other transgender students.

Grimm was born female but began identifying as male after his high school freshman year.

Activist Gavin Grimm arrives for the Time 100 Gala in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, U.S. April 25, 2017.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

Grimm’s right to use a boys bathroom was upheld in rulings by lower federal courts, which had ruled that he was protected by a federal law that bars school programs from discriminating against students on the basis of their sex.

Two of the Supreme Court’s more conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, said they would have heard the case, according to the order released Monday.

The use of bathrooms by transgender students and the acceptance of such students on school athletic teams has become a flashpoint for conservatives in recent years.

“This is a victory for transgender students, who simply want to be themselves without worrying about being rejected or refused access to basic dignities,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO GLADD, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer advocacy group.

Medical and educational authorities all agree that transgender young people must be allowed to belong, learn, grow, and succeed as their authentic selves, just like any other child,” Ellis said. “Our schools and our society are safer and offer more opportunity for all when all are welcome. Our country and community are stronger thanks to Gavin Grimm’s courage and his fight for all kids to be included, valued and protected.” 

The ruling in Grimm’s favor comes a year after the Supreme Court ruled that federal civil rights law bars employers from discriminating against people because of how they identify their gender.

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The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Grimm, said Monday’s ruling “is the third time in recent years that SCOTUS [the Supreme Court of the United States] has allowed appeals court decisions in support of trans students to remain.”

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Supreme Court gives victory to transgender student who sued to use bathroom that corresponded to his gender identity

The case concerns the scope of Title IX that prohibits schools from discriminating “on the basis of sex.” It began when Gavin Grimm, a transgender male who was then a high-school student, challenged the local school board’s decision to require him to use either a unisex restroom or a restroom that corresponds to the sex, female, he was assigned at birth.

Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito said they would have taken up the case for next term.

“I am glad that my years-long fight to have my school see me for who I am is over. Being forced to use the nurse’s room, a private bathroom, and the girl’s room was humiliating for me, and having to go to out-of-the-way bathrooms severely interfered with my education,” Grimm — who has since graduated — said in a statement Monday.

“Trans youth deserve to use the bathroom in peace without being humiliated and stigmatized by their own school boards and elected officials,” he added.

The court’s decision not to review an opinion by the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals means that public school students in the mid-Atlantic states covered by the 4th Circuit, as well as states governed by the 7th Circuit and the 11th Circuit, can use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The issue is unsettled in other states and another appeal could conceivably make its way back to the Supreme Court, although Grimm’s legal fight is over.

Grimm filed suit against the board in 2015, arguing that the school’s policy violated Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause. The Obama Justice Department filed a “statement of interest” accusing the board of violating Title IX. A federal appeals court deferred to the interpretation ruling in Grimm’s favor. The school board appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which agreed to take up the case.

Before the high court could rule, however, the Trump administration withdrew the Obama-era guidance, and the Supreme Court wiped away the decision by the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals and sent the case back down for further proceedings. The case began again at the district court and ultimately the 4th Circuit again ruled in favor of Grimm, this time citing the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in 2020 that held that federal employment law protects LGBTQ workers.
John Roberts is all business in his conservatism

Grimm began fighting the Gloucester County School Board’s policies when he was a sophomore at a Virginia high school in 2015. As part of Grimm’s medical treatment for severe gender dysphoria, Grimm and his mother notified school administrators of his male gender identity and received permission for Grimm to use the boys’ restroom for almost two months. But once the school board began receiving complaints, it adopted a new policy denying him access to the boys’ bathrooms.

In 2019, a federal judge in Virginia also ruled in favor of Grimm, telling the school board it must recognize him as male and saying the board had violated his constitutional rights. The judge awarded him one
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Supreme Court refuses appeal for Virginia school board’s transgender bathroom ban

Members of the U.S. Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the court in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Seated, from left to right, are Associate Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Standing, from left to right, are Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. Pool Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

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Supreme Court declines to hear bathroom case in victory for transgender student

Supreme Court

Supreme Court Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Supreme Court is passing on a key case involving a transgender student, and the ACLU is celebrating the news as an “incredible victory.”

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case of Gavin Grimm, the transgender student who challenged a Virginia school board’s policy that restrooms are “limited to the corresponding biological genders,” NBC News reports. Lower courts sided with Grimm that this violated Title IX, the civil rights law against sex discrimination, and since the Supreme Court isn’t taking up the case, Grimm’s win stays in place.

Josh Block, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told NBC that this was “an incredible victory for Gavin and for transgender students around the country,” while Grimm said, “I am glad that my years-long fight to have my school see me for who I am is over. Being forced to use the nurse’s room, a private bathroom, and the girl’s room was humiliating for me, and having to go to out-of-the-way bathrooms severely interfered with my education.”

According to CNN, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito both said they would have taken up the case.

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Nashville DA Glenn Funk can refuse to enforce the transgender bathroom sign law, lawyers say

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk is not backing down on his decision to not enforce the controversial transgender bathroom sign legislation once it becomes law July 1.

This is despite backlash from Republican lawmakers including East Tennessee Representative John Ragan who said the action from Funk is “offensive.”

The law requires businesses to notify the public if their bathrooms are inclusive.

“Every person is welcomed and valued in Nashville. Enforcement of transphobic and homophobic laws is contrary to those values. My office will not promote hate,” Funk said in a letter.

Abby Rubenfeld, a Nashville Civil Rights attorney with Rubenfeld Law Office said, “General Funk’s response was completely appropriate, I mean he has limited resources, he has to make priorities about enforcement of laws and that’s just the accepted part of his job.”

There’s been continued outcry from Republican lawmakers who say it’s their job to write the laws and its Funk’s job to enforce them.

“The only thing, I think that’s different about this situation is — it’s a controversial law and then the district attorney has taken a more blanket approach,” said Melanie Wilson, Lindsay Young Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Funk also said district attorneys have “discretion of when and under what circumstances to enforce laws enacted by the legislative branch and signed by the executive.”

Something Wilson, a former federal prosecutor, says is correct.

“Even in Tennessee there are Attorney General opinions, there’s a statue that gives broad unfettered discretion to the prosecution to pick and choose and I think it’s likely that the district attorney is going to be upheld in exercising his discretion,” Wilson said.

Tennessee is the first state to require such signage, something Rubenfeld says will be struck down if challenged in court.

“I mean these laws are unconstitutional and our legislature should quit wasting time,” Rubenfeld said. “I mean we have an attorney general who could’ve given them an opinion before they passed it that it was unconstitutional and it’s unnecessary, that’s the more important point to me.”

It’s unclear how the law will be enforced or if any other district attorney will also refuse to enforce the law.

News 2 reached out to Rep. John Ragan for comment and received an emailed statement in part saying Funk is acting outside of his legal authority.

District Attorney General Funk maintains that he has complete discretion to declare that he, alone, “has the discretion to decide when and under what circumstances to enforce laws enacted by the legislature and signed by the executive branch.” If this sounds like an individual is exercising power that “is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind,” that’s because it certainly

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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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Transgender student wins as Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a major transgender rights case, leaving in place a lower court’s ruling that a Virginia public school board acted unlawfully in preventing a transgender student from using a bathroom at his high school that corresponded with his gender identity.

The justices opted not to hear the Gloucester County School Board’s appeal of a 2020 ruling by the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that transgender student Gavin Grimm is protected under the federal law that bars sex discrimination in education, known as Title IX, and the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that people be treated equally under the law. The 4th Circuit ruling does not set a national legal precedent.

The Supreme Court’s decision to reject the appeal represents a victory for Grimm, who sued the school board in 2015 after officials at a local public high school refused to allow him to use the boys’ restrooms. The Supreme Court previously took up the case in 2016 but did not issue a ruling and sent it back to lower courts.

“We won,” Grimm wrote on Twitter. “I have nothing more to say but thank you, thank you, thank you. Honored to have been part of this victory.”

The brief court order noted that conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have taken up the case.

FILE - In this April 23, 2021, file photo members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington. Seated from left are Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left are Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Before the Supreme Court this is week is an argument over whether public schools can discipline students over something they say off-campus. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool, File)

FILE – In this April 23, 2021, file photo members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington. Seated from left are Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left are Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Before the Supreme Court this is week is an argument over whether public schools can discipline students over something they say off-campus. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool, File)

President Joe Biden’s administration, reversing the position taken by the government under his predecessor Donald Trump, said on June 16 that Title IX protects both gender identity and sexual orientation. The administration has not said specifically how that applies to school bathroom access.

Grimm, assigned female gender at birth, identifies as male. Grimm, now 22, graduated from the school in 2017.

Grimm began attending Gloucester High School in September 2014. With the school’s permission, Grimm used the boys’ bathroom for about seven weeks without incident.

But after complaints from parents, the county school board adopted a new policy in December 2014 that required students to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender at birth. Grimm was given the option of using a separate gender-neutral bathroom, but refused to do so, feeling stigmatized.

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Judge Henry Floyd, writing for the 4th Circuit, said the school board’s actions constituted “a special kind of discrimination against a child that he will no

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Tennessee to mandate bathroom signs about transgender use | National News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee will become the first state in the United States to require businesses and government facilities open to the public to post a sign if they let transgender people use multiperson bathrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms associated with their gender identity.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Monday that represents a first-of-its-kind law, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group that decried the bill as discriminatory and said the required signs are “offensive and humiliating.” The law will go into effect July 1.

Lee, who is up for reelection next year, had previously been mum on whether he would sign the bill. Instead, he told reporters earlier this month that he always had “concerns about business mandates” but was still reviewing the bill.

Lee’s approval came just a few days after he signed legislation that puts public schools and their districts at risk of losing civil lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use multiperson bathrooms or locker rooms that do not reflect their sex at birth. It was the first bill restricting bathroom use by transgender people signed in any state in about five years, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Lee also signed a different proposal this year that bars transgender athletes from playing girls public high school or middle school sports.

Republican statehouses have been awash in culture war legislation across the country this year, particularly focusing on the LGBT community. Tennessee has been the front lines on that fight, with civil rights advocates pointing out that only Texas has filed more anti-LGBT bills in the country.

Yet, to date, there has been no big, tangible repercussion where bills have passed targeting transgender people, unlike the swift backlash from the business community to North Carolina’s 2016 “bathroom bill.” In Tennessee, the bills are becoming law despite letters of opposition from prominent business interests.

According to the bill signed Monday, the required sign outside the public bathroom or other facility would say: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.”

However, questions remain about how the law will be enforced and what, if any, consequences will stem from ignoring it. The law doesn’t spell out fines, penalties or any other mechanism to ensure the signs are put up when required.

Republican Rep. Tim Rudd, the bill’s sponsor, said no state department will oversee compliance with the law. Instead, Rudd said, local district attorneys could seek a court order to require a facility to post the sign. If an entity refused to comply, “it would open the door for whatever judicial remedies the court deems appropriate,” Rudd said.

Additionally, it’s possible that noncompliance could lead to civil liability, Rudd said.

“Whether you’re a man or woman, don’t you want to know who might be waiting on the other side of a bathroom door when you go in?” Rudd said in a statement. “Everyone has a

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Tennessee House OKs new transgender ‘bathroom bill’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee House lawmakers on Monday passed a bill that would put public schools and districts at risk of civil lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use multi-person bathrooms or locker rooms that don’t reflect their gender at birth.

The proposal must now pass the Senate before it can head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk, with senators expected to vote on the proposal later this week. The bill is one of several LGTBQ-related measures that the GOP-controlled General Assembly have introduced this year that critics have slammed as discriminatory. Most notably, Lee, a Republican, signed a different proposal this year that bars transgender athletes from playing girls’ public high school or middle school sports.

Under the proposed measure — which passed 65-24 on Monday — a student or employee could sue in an effort to claim monetary damages “for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered” if school officials allow a transgender person into the bathroom or locker room when others are in there, or if they require staying in the same sleeping quarters as a member of the opposite sex at birth, unless that person is a family member.

The proposal also says schools must try to offer a bathroom or changing facility that is single-occupancy or that is for employees if a student or employee “desires greater privacy when using a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility designated for the person’s sex” at birth.

Opponents of the bill, including business entities, point to North Carolina’s experience with the enactment of its 2016 version of a “bathroom bill,” which was signed by former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and in part required transgender people to use public bathrooms aligned with the gender on their birth certificate.

Several large corporations and sports leagues relocated events to other states or reconsidered expanding in North Carolina due to the law, which was partially repealed in 2017.

A federal judge eventually approved a consent decree in 2019 between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and transgender plaintiffs that affirms their right to use restrooms matching their gender identity in many public buildings.

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