US Bathroom battle begun by trans teen is back at Supreme Court, years after he finished high school
Happy Pride? How About Fewer Rainbow Emojis, More Action.
Here’s one thing you can do, indeed should do, to cast a real downer over brunch or sunbathing this weekend. When someone brightly greets you with a “Happy Pride!,” answer, as witheringly as your inner Dame Maggie Smith will allow, “Is it?” What else can one say after this first-week-of-Pride-month, featuring social media feeds dripping with rainbow emojis, individual and corporate smug self-congratulation, emails advertising every product under the sun made rainbow-colored, and pat messages of empowerment? Yet what is the point—apart from self-interest, self-promotion, and the easiest kind of cheerleading—of this orgy of pathetic virtue signaling when LGBTQ rights, a
WASHINGTON –at the center of a years-long legal struggle over school bathrooms, is now in his twenties. He graduated from the Virginia high school that blocked him from .
While Grimm has moved on from the school – and a casual observer could be forgiven for– his case is back at the Supreme Court, along with the underlying question of whether public schools may ban transgender students from using a restroom that reflects their gender identity.
Grimm’s lawsuit drew awhen the Supreme Court initially , and it returns at a time when conservative states are enacting laws to restrict transgender athletes, bar discussion of gender identity in classrooms without parental consent and make it harder to .
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The Supreme Court is set to discuss on June 24 whether to take up the case again.
"A lot of people in the country are in a different place than they were five years ago," said Josh Block, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has represented Grimm in the legal battle for years. "I hope that if the justices do take the case they'll have seen that for the past five years, the sky hasn't fallen."
- Bostock: ights
- Fact check:
If the court takes the case, a decision could have sweeping implications, potentially extending a landmark employment discrimination decision from last year. In, the court held that included sexual orientation and gender identity – a big victory for gay rights advocates.
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Kayla Gore is the co-founder and executive director of My Sistah's House, a Memphis-based organization that serves trans and queer people of color."Middle school was treacherous," she says, describing bullying and in one instance, a student throwing a desk at her head. "But my mom bought a house when I was in middle school so we were more rooted. We weren't moving around. I wasn't changing schools and so I was able to build a bigger, better support system in middle school, going into high school. And so things were a lot better in high school.
One of the questions posed by the Grimm suit is whether to expand that same reasoning to education, housing and other areas where "sex" discrimination is prohibited. One of the first targets of that effort is Title IX, the nearly 50-year-old federal law thatthat receives federal funding.
But, who wrote , said that the decision did "not purport to address bathrooms, locker rooms, or anything else of the kind." Gorsuch was joined in the majority by and the court’s four liberal justices at the time. Three conservatives dissented.
- 'Not surprised':
"If the logic of this were extended, it could have repercussions way beyond the facts of the case,” said Steven Fitschen, president of the National Legal Foundation, a Christian public-interest legal group that helped to write a brief arguing the court should use the case to reconsider its decision in Bostock. "One is discrimination in employment. The other deals with Title IX...so there’s a different legislative history."
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‘Unsafe, anxious, and disrespected’
Grimm was ato Gavin and began using male pronouns. Officials at Gloucester High School were supportive but blowback from parents prompted the school board to bar him from the boys’ bathroom, directing him instead to unisex bathrooms – three of which were built in response to the controversy.
Grimm said the mandate made him feel "stigmatized and isolated." The unisex bathrooms were unavailable when he attended football games and afterschool activities. Grimm would often "hold it," leading to urinary tract infections. He sued in 2015, claiming the board’s policy violated Title IX and the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
"By the time I started eleventh grade, the stress was unbearable. I was in an environment every single day, five days a week, where I felt unsafe, anxious, and disrespected," Grimm, who went on to attend college in California, said in a 2019 statement to the court. "I told my mom that I was having suicidal thoughts."
Grimm’s case was initially dismissed in district court but he won at the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The court rested its decision in part on guidance from the Department of Education under President Barack Obama that advised schools that Title IXof gender identity.
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The school district appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which agreed to answer the question of whether the administration’s guidance was sound.
But then President Donald Trump's administration rescinded the guidance in 2017,. The Supreme Court wiped out the lower court’s ruling. In a separate case in 2019, the justices school district's policy that permitted transgender students to use bathrooms reflecting their gender identity.
Four years after the high court dropped the case, President Joe Biden signed an order on hiswould reinstate the former policy. The school district was back at the Supreme Court less than a month later.
A lawyer for the Gloucester County school board did not respond to a request for comment, but the district told the court this year that the Bostock case isn’t relevant because its policy is about biological sex, not gender identity. Title IX does allow schools to create separate bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities for girls and boys.
"Under the board’s policy, 'sex' remains binary and grounded in biology, with no discrimination based on non-compliance with sex-based norms," the school said.
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"For the good of the country, now is the time to step aside," an ad released by 13 progressive groups on Wednesday said.Eighteen legal academics endorsed an ad set to run in the New York Times on Friday, urging the 82-year-old Breyer to step down to avoid a possible scenario in which Republicans win the Senate in 2022 and block future judicial nominees put forth by Biden.
Unease despite victories
LGBTQ advocates have won major legal battles in recent years, including Bostock as well as the 2015 Supreme Court case that, Obergefell v. Hodges. And appeals courts in , , as well as the Richmond, Va., court in Grimm's case, have all held that schools violate federal law when they prohibit transgender boys from using the same restrooms as cisgender boys.
But there is still palpable unease among gay rights lawyers for two reasons: There has been a significant uptick in state laws aimed at transgender people and the Supreme Court is more conservative than it was when it decided Obergefell and Bostock. Conservatives now enjoy a 6-3 advantage on the court for.
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Nearly two dozen laws limiting LGBTQ rights have been approved in at least nine states this year, surpassing the count in 2015 – which previously had the most such laws, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group. Several seem designed to prompt lawsuits that could eventually wind up at the Supreme Court.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed a law in March requiring transgender students toto their sex assigned at birth. Arkansas became the treatments for transgender minors. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, signed a law barring people who have not undergone gender-affirming surgery from .
"Those who care about equality can’t help but be nervous when this court takes up LGBTQ cases, particularly those which involve transgender individuals," said Kristen Prata Browde, co-chair of the National Trans Bar Association.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
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