Virginia school board petitioning to block transgender bathroom access

By Joseph Pelletier

WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) – An emergency petition regarding transgender bathroom “rights” is heading to the Supreme Court.

In an appeal filed Wednesday, a Virginia school board is asking the High Court for legal grounds to refuse to allow a girl who believes she is a boy to use the men’s restroom and locker room in school. According to the Gloucester County School Board, allowing 17-year-old Gavin Grimm, born female but masquerading as a male, to use the opposite bathroom will “put parents’ constitutional rights in jeopardy.”

Attorneys for the school board declared in their petition:

Depriving parents of any say over whether their children should be exposed to members of the opposite biological sex, possibly in a state of full or complete undress, in intimate settings deprives parents of their right to direct the education and upbringing of their children.

It is “natural to assume,” they continued, parents may pull their children from school over the issue.

The petition, which has been filed with Chief Justice John Roberts, is seeking a Supreme Court ruling delaying the implementation of a district court decision initiated by Grimm and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) until the situation can be reviewed by the whole Supreme Court; the board plans to file a petition for review with the High Court in August.

In such situations, Chief Justice Roberts is given the option of ruling himself or asking the full Court to decide.

The ACLU, representing Grimm, has announced it plans to counter the petition should the Court approve the request to put the lower court case on hold.

“It is sad that the school board members and their lawyers have so little regard for the impact their misguided actions are having on a real teenager’s life,” maintained Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia. “We will continue to stand with Gavin and other young people suffering such cruelties and indignities.”

The initial legal action spawned from a decision by the school board to ban students from using the bathroom of the opposite gender, stating,

It shall be the practice of the [Gloucester County Public Schools] to provide male and female restroom and locker room facilities in its schools, and the use of said facilities shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders, and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative private facility.

However, the alternate facilities provided did not satisfy Grimm. “I’m banned from a gender-specific place and it is a big issue for me; this is one way the school is saying, we do not believe you are legitimate, and that is a big deal to me,” she stated.

A 2–1 ruling handed down April 19 from the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the school board’s policy, citing violations of Title IX, a federal law banning discrimination in schools. “The uncontroverted facts before the district court demonstrate that as a result of the Board’s restroom policy, [Grimm] experiences daily psychological harm that puts him at risk for long-term psychological harm,” wrote Judge Andre Davis.

“I feel so relieved and vindicated by the court’s ruling,” Grimm said following the decision. “Today’s decision gives me hope that my fight will help other kids avoid discriminatory treatment at school.”

Before taking its case to the Supreme Court, the Gloucester County School Board petitioned the circuit court to stay its ruling, a request that was denied.

The Virginia case marks the first time a petition regarding transgender bathroom access has come before the U.S. Supreme Court.

To date, 23 states have sued the Obama administration over transgender bathroom “rights,” a movement that sprang up following the May issuing of a mandate from the Departments of Justice and Education ordering all public schools to permit so-called transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice.

The mandate stems from legal action taken by North Carolina in early May, which countersued the Obama administration over the state’s House Bill 2, which requires self-described transgender individuals to use the public restroom that corresponds with their true gender.

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Joseph Pelletier is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.

 

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