Legal Voice—along with our partners in The Alliance: State Advocates for Women’s Rights & Gender Equality, the National Women’s Law Center, and other nonprofit gender justice advocacy organizations—recently signed-on to an amicus brief filed by Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic arguing that a high school’s refusal to allow a transgender male to use the boys’ bathroom violates Title IX.
Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old student in Gloucester County, Virginia, challenged a policy adopted by his school board that forbids transgender students from using restrooms that are consistent with their gender identities, instead limiting the use of girls’ and boys’ bathrooms to students of “the corresponding biological genders.” The lower court upheld the policy, despite the trend among courts recognizing such policies as sex discrimination, and therefore prohibited under federal anti-discrimination statutes.
As the brief explains, “A transgender person’s identity as male or female differs from their assigned sex at birth. Because what it means to be a transgender person is inherently linked to sex, discrimination against a person for being transgender is sex discrimination in the most basic sense.”
The brief also points out that the school district’s narrow, biological interpretation of “sex” conflicts with precedent-setting decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, and goes against guidance from the federal Department of Education explaining that “when a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex in [restrooms], a school must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”
Our amicus brief calls on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the decision of the lower court and to allow Gavin to move forward with his claim.