VIRGINIA – The United States Supreme Court on Monday dismissed an appeal by a Virginia school board to reinstate its ban on transgender toilets, offering a victory to a former high school student who has fought in court for six years to overturn the ban.
The High Court ruling in favor of the former student comes as an anti-transgender campaign gains momentum in Northern Virginia. In one jurisdiction, conservative groups are rallying around a teacher who has sworn not to refer to students by their preferred names and pronouns.
Unrest erupted at the Loudoun County School Board meeting last Tuesday as residents who stepped out to protest critical race theory and the district’s proposed policies on transgender students grew unruly, resulting in two arrests.
In the Supreme Court case, Gavin Grimm was a 15-year-old student at Gloucester High School when he was banned from using the boys’ bathroom. Gloucester County is located in the Middle Peninsula region of Virginia.
Gloucester County School Board policy required Grimm to use toilets that match his biological sex – female – or private bathrooms. Grimm filed a federal lawsuit that made its way through the courts for six years.
Grimm said being forced to use the nurse’s room, a private bathroom and the girl’s toilet was humiliating and seriously interfered with her education.
In Monday’s ruling, the Supreme Court left in place lower court rulings that found the policy unconstitutional. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas voted to hear the council’s appeal.
In its petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, the school board argued that its toilet policy posed an “urgent federal matter of national importance.”
The Gloucester County School Board argued that federal laws protect against discrimination based on sex, not gender identity. Because Grimm had not had sex reassignment surgery and still had female genitalia, the council’s position was that he was anatomically still female.
A United States District Court judge and the United States 4th Court of Appeals both ruled that the board’s policy violated Title IX, a federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of on sex in any school receiving federal money. The courts also found it violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by prohibiting Grimm from using the same toilet as the other boys and forcing him to use a separate toilet.
In Loudoun County, parents and conservative groups rallied with Tanner Cross, a teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, who argued he could not recognize transgender youth because it went against the grain of his religious beliefs.
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At a Loudoun County School Board meeting on May 25, Cross said during the public comment period that he would not follow the proposed policy. “I will not assert that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa. It is against my religion, it is lying to a child, it is mistreating a child and it is sinning against our God”, he said during the meeting’s public comment session. .
Cross was suspended after expressing resistance to the school system‘s proposed policy towards transgender students, but was reinstated due to a temporary injunction from a Loudoun County court.
Last week, the Loudoun County School Board filed an appeal with the Virginia Supreme Court challenging the circuit court judge’s decision to grant an injunction demanding Cross’s reinstatement.
Research has shown that allowing children to make the social transition, using preferred names and pronouns, improves their mental health outcomes. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that transgender children allowed to make a social transition had levels of depression and self-esteem similar to their cisgender peers.
At last week’s school board meeting, former Virginia State Senator Dick Black said during the public comment period that “it is absurd and immoral for teachers to call boys girls and girls boys “.
After Black’s comment, the board quickly voted to end the public comment section earlier. Meeting attendees hooted back, and a man could be seen showing his middle finger to school board members.
This story includes reports from The Associated Press.
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