Gavin Grimm won a major victory for trans rights in the courts this week when a federal court of appeal affirmed a previous decision that he had been unconstitutionally discriminated against by the Gloucester County School Board when they required him to use a gender neutral bathroom or one which did not match his gender.
“We are left without doubt that the Board acted to protect cisgender boys from Gavin’s mere presence — a special kind of discrimination against a child that he will no doubt carry with him for life,” the decision read.
“All transgender students should have what I was denied: the opportunity to be seen for who we are by our schools and our government,” Gavin said in a statement. “Today’s decision is an incredible affirmation for not just me, but for trans youth around the country.”
“For the last five years, Gavin has been fighting for transgender students to ensure no one else deals with the discrimination he faced in high school,” Eden Heilman, legal director for the ACLU of Virginia, adding that “trans students deserve to go to school with dignity, respect, and equal protection under the law.”
The ruling followed a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that found it is illegal to fire an employee for being LGBTQ+. Grimm has waged his legal battle since 2015, when he was a sophomore in high school. Grimm’s case also reached the Supreme Court in 2017, but was sent back for review by the lower court when President Trump changed the Department of Education’s Title IX protections for trans students. Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright ordered the board to settle with Grimm. Instead, they appealed and ultimately lost that appeal this week.
“Transgender students belong in our schools,” Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIVA Project, said. “The court once again ruled that school’s obligation to create an environment that is safe and welcoming for all students includes transgender students.”
In its ruling, the court made clear it was aware of the significance of Grimm’s case both legally and personally.
“The proudest moments of the federal judiciary are when we affirm the burgeoning values of our bright youth, rather than preserve the prejudices of the past,” the decision read.