Born a biological female but identifying as male, 16 year-old Gavin Grimm (pictured, above), a student in Virginia, was prohibited from using the men's restroom at his high school.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court which rules over Virginia, could lay the groundwork to put an end to the controversial "bathroom debate." On Tuesday, a 2-1 decision marked the first time a federal court has ruled that Title IX, a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in public schools, protects transgender individuals and their right to use the bathroom that aligns with their identity.
The court, which covers five states (Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina), ruled in favor of Grimm and his right to use the men's bathroom at his school.
With a rash of proposed anti-trans legislation sprouting in North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia, the national conversation has turned toward the "bathroom debate," which is concerned with transgender people and which bathroom they use.
North Carolina's HB2 remains the most disputed point in the continued debate, and this court decision could have major implictions for the law. For instance, North Carolina could lose its Title IX funding because of the Fourth Circuit's ruling that bills such as HB2 are discriminatory.
Grimm's case was originally dismissed by Judge Robert G. Doumar, of Federal District Court, in September 2015, but the Fourth Circuit's decision means the District Court will reevaluate the teenager's claim, which was brought forward by the ACLU.
In a statement reported by The New York Times, the ACLU and Lambda Legal said "this mean-spirited law not only encourages discrimination and endangers transgender students - it puts at risk billions of dollars in federal funds that North Carolina receives for secondary and post-secondary schools."