It was always sad that a simple request by Virginia transgender student Gavin Grimm to use a bathroom matching his gender identity ended up on the docket of the nation’s highest court. After all, as Grimm once so eloquently wrote, this was a matter of common sense that should have been resolved “quietly and privately.” But even sadder than the prejudice and ignorance that turned this into a federal case is the fact that Grimm will graduate from high school still waiting for the justice that he and other transgender people need to protect them.
The Supreme Court had been set to hear arguments March 28 in Grimm’s case against the Gloucester County (Virginia) School Board. Monday, in a one-sentence order, the court announced it would not hear the case but instead was sending it back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. The order comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s decision to change the federal government’s position by rescinding school guidance protecting transgender students.
In withdrawing the directive issued during the Obama administration advising schools to allow students to use the bathroom of their gender identity and not biological birth, Education and Justice department officials said they needed to “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.” Never mind, as was spelled out in an amicus brief filed by former members of the Obama administration, that there was painstaking review and analysis over several years before the conclusion was reached that federal anti-discrimination laws apply to transgender students.
Never mind, either, the real-life experiences of schools and states that followed the guidance: Allowing students to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity has not caused problems. Grimm in fact was first permitted to use the boys’ bathroom at his high school and did so for almost two months without incident until adults made political hay of the issue and a cowardly school board abandoned common sense. Forcing transgender students to use facilities based on the sex listed on their birth certificates subjects them to teasing, bullying and worse.
Lawyers for Grimm are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision, but they don’t view it as a final defeat; they plan to press the case in the appeals court. Hopefully the process will not lose sight of the real people whose lives are at stake and who, as one transgender man wrote in a brief supporting Grimm, “just want to live in peace as who we are.”
Editorial by The Washington Post