Supreme Court Scraps Transgender Teen Gavin Grimm's Bathroom Case

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The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

The justices said Monday they have opted not to decide whether federal anti-discrimination law gives the high school senior the right to use the boys' bathroom in his Virginia school.

The Supreme Court is handing a transgender teen's case back to a lower court without reaching a decision. The justices said Monday (March 6) they have opted not to decide whether federal anti-discrimination law gives Gavin Grimm the right to use the boys' bathroom in his Virginia school.

The case had been scheduled for argument in late March. Instead, a lower court in Virginia will be tasked with evaluating the federal law known as title IX and the extent to which it applies to transgender students.

The high court action follows the Trump administration's recent decision to withdraw a directive issued during Barack Obama's presidency that advised schools to allow students to use the bathroom of their chosen gender, not biological birth. Grimm, 17, was born female but identifies as male. The high school senior from Gloucester, Virginia, has been fighting with his local school officials for several years for the right to use a boys' bathroom. Grimm came out as transgender during his sophomore year and had been using the boys' rest room until the local school board passed a policy that barred him from doing so and insisted he use a unisex one.

Grimm's family sued the Gloucester County School Board in June 2015 in federal court, arguing that the board's bathroom policy violated Title IX, the federal law against sex discrimination in schools. He used the boys' restroom at Gloucester High School for several weeks in the fall of 2014, but after some parents complained the school board ruled that December that students had to use the bathroom that corresponded to their "biological gender." A federal judge dismissed Grimms' lawsuit in Dec. 2015, but a U.S. Court of Appeals sided with him in April 2016 and said his lawsuit could continue, deferring to the Obama administration's position that blocking transgender students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity is discriminatory.

In June, a federal judge ordered the school board to allow Grimm to use the boys' bathroom, then, at the school board's request, the Supreme Court halted that order. The board appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the administration had gone too far in dictating policy to public schools about dealing with transgender students. In the interim, Grimm has been barred from using the boys' restroom.

Grimm got national exposure at this year's Grammy Awards (Feb. 12) when Laverne Cox shouted out his name and encouraged viewers to #StandWithGavin. Reaction to the decision was swift, with some activists blaming recent moves by the Trump administration to remove some protections for trans teens put in place by the Obama White House.