Politics

Supreme Court refuses to hear transgender bathroom case, a victory for LGBT rights and student Gavin Grimm

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Key Points
  • The Supreme Court handed the LGBT rights movement a victory, declining to hear an appeal that challenged the rights of transgender students to use the gender bathroom of their choosing.
  • The high court said it would not take a case involving Gavin Grimm and the school board of Gloucester County, Virginia, which had challenged his use of boys bathrooms.
  • Two of the Supreme Court's more conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, said they would have heard the case, according to the order.
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Supreme Court rules in favor of transgender student, Gavin Grimm

The Supreme Court on Monday handed the LGBT rights movement another victory, declining to hear an appeal that challenged the rights of transgender students to use the bathroom of their choosing.

The high court said it would not take a case involving Gavin Grimm and the school board of Gloucester County, Virginia. That board had refused Grimm the choice to use a boys bathroom in his school in a policy that also applied to other transgender students.

Grimm was born female but began identifying as male after his high school freshman year.

Activist Gavin Grimm arrives for the Time 100 Gala in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, U.S. April 25, 2017.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

Grimm's right to use a boys bathroom was upheld in rulings by lower federal courts, which had ruled that he was protected by a federal law that bars school programs from discriminating against students on the basis of their sex.

Two of the Supreme Court's more conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, said they would have heard the case, according to the order released Monday.

The use of bathrooms by transgender students and the acceptance of such students on school athletic teams has become a flashpoint for conservatives in recent years.

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"This is a victory for transgender students, who simply want to be themselves without worrying about being rejected or refused access to basic dignities," said Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO GLADD, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer advocacy group.

"Medical and educational authorities all agree that transgender young people must be allowed to belong, learn, grow, and succeed as their authentic selves, just like any other child," Ellis said. "Our schools and our society are safer and offer more opportunity for all when all are welcome. Our country and community are stronger thanks to Gavin Grimm's courage and his fight for all kids to be included, valued and protected." 

The ruling in Grimm's favor comes a year after the Supreme Court ruled that federal civil rights law bars employers from discriminating against people because of how they identify their gender.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Grimm, said Monday's ruling "is the third time in recent years that SCOTUS [the Supreme Court of the United States] has allowed appeals court decisions in support of trans students to remain."