The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Virginia filed a lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board for adopting a discriminatory bathroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers. The policy effectively expels trans students from communal restrooms and requires them to use “alternative private” restroom facilities.
The case was filed in 2015 on behalf of Gavin Grimm, a transgender male student at Gloucester High School who went on to graduate in 2017. The lawsuit argues the bathroom policy is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment and violates Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination by schools.
As part of Gavin’s medical treatment for severe gender dysphoria, Gavin and his mother notified administrators of his male gender identity at the beginning of his sophomore year so that he could socially transition in all aspects of his life. With permission from school administrators, Gavin used the boys’ restroom for almost two months without any incident. But after receiving complaints from some parents and residents of Gloucester County, the school board adopted the new policy on December 9, 2014, by a vote of 6-1, despite warnings from the ACLU.
A motion for preliminary injunction was filed asking the court to rule in time for Gavin to be able to use the same restroom as other boys at Gloucester High School when classes resumed for the 2015-16 school year. The district court denied the injunction and dismissed Gavin’s claim under Title IX. That decision was appealed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the lower court’s decision was overturned in August of 2016. Gloucester County School Board then petitioned for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States and the Fourth Circuit’s mandate was stayed pending the court's decision on the petition.
When Gavin initially filed his case, he also filed a motion for preliminary injunction asking the court to rule in time for him to be able to use the same restroom as other boys at Gloucester High School when classes resumed for the 2015-16 school year. Although that motion was initially denied by the district court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned the district court’s decision and deferred to guidance from the Department of Education that supported Gavin’s legal argument.
The Supreme Court initially announced that it would review the Fourth Circuit’s decision and set an argument date for early 2017. But a few weeks before the Supreme Court could hear the case, the Trump administration rescinded the Department of Education’s previous guidance regarding transgender students’ rights under Title IX. The Supreme Court sent Gavin's case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to be reconsidered now that the guidance had been rescinded.
Gavin graduated high school in June 2017, still unable to use the same restroom as other boys. After graduation, he withdrew his motion for a preliminary injunction and filed an amended complaint with the district court for nominal damages and a declaration that the Board violated his rights under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause. The amended complaint also seeks a permanent injunction preventing the Board from excluding him from the restrooms when he is on school grounds for alumni activities.
On May 22, 2109, the Eastern District of Virginia denied the Board’s motion to dismiss and went on to have a hearing on motions for summary judgment on July 23, 2019.
Update (8/9/19): The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Gavin's motion for summary judgement, ruling that the school violated Gavin's rights under Title IX and the 14th Amendment.
District Court (E.D. Va.)
Appeals Court (4th Cir.) - Remanded
- 05/15/2017Amicus Briefs in Support of Plaintiff-Appellant
- 05/15/2017Amicus Briefs in Support of Defendant-Appellee
The Supreme Court of The United States
- 03/01/2017Amicus Briefs in Support of Respondent
- 01/24/2017Motion for Divided Argument
- 01/18/2017Lodging of Non-Record Material
- 01/09/2017Amicus Briefs in Support of Petitioner
- 01/06/2017Amicus Briefs in Support of Neither Party
- 09/27/2016Amicus Briefs in Support of School Board Petition
Appeals Court (4th Cir.)
- 11/30/2015Amicus Briefs in Support of Defendant
- 10/28/2015Amicus Briefs in Support of Plaintiff