Virginia high schooler Gavin Grimm has had his day in court neatly sidestepped by the Supreme Court.
After two different legal battles, the Supreme Court was supposed to hear the case March 28. It has now declined to do so as a result of President Donald Trump's decision to rescind protections for transgender students on the federal level. The case is now sent back to the lower courts for debate.
Grimm, now 17, has been fighting for two years for the right to use the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity. Grimm was born female but identifies as male and had been allowed to use the male washroom for approximately two months before parents became aware that the youth had been using the male washroom. Phone calls soon followed, with concerns of rape and sexual assault potentially occurring in the washroom being aired by parents and relatives.
The issue soon became an explosive one, and the Gloucester County School Board passed policy which stated that transgender students could not use the washroom that corresponded to their gender identity but could use a separate, single stall room. Grimm said in the case of his school, he found access to the single stall washroom was often inconvenient and that he saw no reason why he should not be allowed to use the washroom that aligned with his gender identity.
The big question is whether or not Title IX, a provision that bans discrimination “on the basis of sex” in schools receiving federal money, also bans discrimination based on gender identity. The Obama administration determined that it didn't, but within the last month, the Trump administration rescinded that guidance. The Trump administration has yet to outline exactly what it might put in its place, but for now, the decision means that Grimm and other transgender students are required to either use the single stall washroom that may have been set aside for them or use the washroom that aligns with their gender at birth.
In saying that Grimm must use the single stall washroom, the American Civil Liberties Union has argued that the youth is ostracized, as no other student is required to use it. Josh Block, senior staff attorney for the ACLU's LGBT Project, said that while disappointing, the Supreme Court's decision to move the matter back to a lower Virginia court does not end this issue.
"This is a detour, not the end of the road, and we’ll continue to fight for Gavin and other transgender people to ensure that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” he said via a press release.
Grimm's case has seen the young man become the face of transgender rights in the United States, a rather unique position for anyone, let alone a 17-year-old, to be in. While Grimm has admitted to being "humbled" by the attention his case has brought and by the role he now seems to have on the national stage, he has also said that he would like to change the subject and to be “someone who doesn’t have to talk about where he is going to use the bathroom.”
There is no word yet as to when Grimm's landmark legal battle will hit the lower courts again.