© Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
The Supreme Court has blocked a previous federal court ruling ordering a Virginia school board to allow a transgender student access to a bathroom matching his gender identity.
In a 5-3 decision on Wednesday, the nation’s top court put a hold on an order from the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, pending a writ of certiorari, or a review, of the lower court decision.
The court’s decision came after the Gloucester County School board filed an emergency appeal asking Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles requests from the Fourth Circuit which includes Virginia, to ban 17-year-old Gavin Grimm from using the boys’ restroom, until the decision is reached on whether the court would review the case.
Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, argued the school board’s policy requiring students to use either the restroom that corresponds with their biological gender or a private, single-stall restroom violated Title IX, a federal law that bars sex discrimination in schools.
The Virginia school board argued that forcing the school to let Grimm use the boys’ bathroom raised privacy concerns and could cause some parents to remove their children from the school.
The Supreme Court ruling said that if the justices agreed to hear Grimm’s case, the order would remain on hold until the court makes a final ruling.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, while Justice Stephen Breyer said he agreed to put the case on hold to “preserve the status quo” until the court decides whether to weigh in.
An American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing Grimm said he was disappointed the teenager would begin another school year being “stigmatized and isolated from the rest of his peers just because is transgender.”
Just because he/she is transgender? Like it's the difference between wearing a tee shirt or a dress shirt. Stigmatism and isolation are part of being trans. If he/she is not stigmatized by that, having to use a private bathroom is not going to do it.
The Fourth Circuit sided with Grimm in April, arguing that the federal judge who previously dismissed the teen’s Title IX discrimination claim had ignored a US Department of Education rule that transgender students in public schools must be allowed to use the restroom that corresponded to the gender identity.