Federal Court Rules Students May Use Bathrooms That Match Their Gender Identity

Federal Court Rules Students May Use Bathrooms That Match Their Gender Identity
A federal appeals court said a Virginia high school’s transgender bathroom rule is unconstitutional and violates Title IX. (tedeytanCC BY-SA 2.0)

In a win for transgender rights, a federal appeals court has ruled a Virginia high school’s transgender bathroom rule is unconstitutional, discriminatory and a violation of Title IX rules.

Gavin Grimm sued his Virginia high school in 2015 after being barred from using the boys restroom, citing Title IX protections against sex discrimination. While the Virginia school board had previously argued that these protections only covered sex and not gender identity, the recent Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ protections in the workplace has prompted the lower courts to rule the bathroom ban unconstitutional.

“At the heart of this appeal is whether equal protection and Title IX can protect transgender students from school bathroom policies that prohibit them from affirming their gender,” U.S. Circuit Judge Henry Floyd stated in the court’s majority opinion. “We join a growing consensus of courts in holding that the answer is resoundingly yes.”

“After the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, we have little difficulty holding that a bathroom policy precluding Grimm from using the boys restrooms discriminated against him ‘on the basis of sex,’” the ruling continued.

Gavin Grimm is now 21 and lives in California where he is a transgender rights activist. In a statement from the ACLU, who represented Grimm in his case, he said that the decision “is an incredible affirmation for not just me, but for trans youth around the country…all transgender students should have what I was denied: the opportunity to be seen for who we are by our schools and our government.”

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Corinne Long is the Communications Associate at the Feminist Majority Foundation. A lifelong women’s rights activist, Corinne worked at Emily’s List and the Democratic National Women’s Club before joining FMF. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Trinity Washington University. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her cat, Lorelei.