Justice Department Says Trans Students' Rights Are Violated by Restrictive Bathroom Policies

[Content Note: Transphobia; gender policing.]

Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old high school junior from Gloucester County, Virginia, filed a lawsuit against his school system after he was denied access to the boys' restroom because he is transgender.
Until December, Grimm had used the boys’ restrooms for seven weeks without any issues. Then, amid pressure from parents, the school board voted 6 to 1 to restrict girls' and boys' bathrooms to students of "the corresponding biological genders."

"I just want to use the restroom in peace," Grimm said in a statement. "Since the school board passed this policy, I feel singled out and humiliated every time I need to use the restroom."
So, with the assistance of the ACLU, Grimm sued, arguing that "he should be allowed to use the school system's communal restrooms and not 'alternative' facilities just for transgender students," which stigmatizes being trans* and is humiliating for trans* students.

On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in which they sided with Grimm:
[T]he Justice Department argues that the Gloucester County school board's policy violates Grimm's rights, and federal officials are seeking to ensure that "all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination."

...Justice Department officials wrote that Grimm should be allowed to use the male restrooms at Gloucester High School as a matter of mental health. It also said discriminating against transgender students could be a violation of the federal Title IX regulations that aim to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender.

"Singling out transgender students and subjecting them to differential treatment can also make them more vulnerable to bullying and harassment, a problem that transgender students already face," according to the Justice document. ..."Allowing transgender students to use the restrooms consistent with their gender identity will help prevent stigma that results in bullying and harassment and will ensure that the District fosters a safe and supportive learning environment for all students, a result that is unquestionably in the public interest."
Further, when the Gloucester County School Board cited a federal court decision from March regarding a similar case in Pennsylvania, in which Judge Kim R. Gibson dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by a trans* college student, the Justice Department pushed back on Gibson's ruling (and consequently GCSB's invoking it), saying her "reasoning was 'faulty and should not be followed' because the distinction between sex and gender was 'eviscerated' by a 1989 Supreme Court case on sex-based discrimination. Instead, the Justice Dept. argues, the definition of 'sex' is broad under Title IX and that 'an individual's gender identity is one aspect of an individual's sex …Consequently, discrimination on the basis of gender identity is 'literally' discrimination on the basis of sex.'"

This is good news indeed, but unless federal regulations are instituted protecting trans* students, individual students will continue to have to sue on a case by case basis, if they even have the inclination and wherewithal to do so.

And there's no guarantee the next administration will be as disposed toward advancing trans* rights and protections. Suffice it to say, there isn't a single Republican candidate in the clown car whose Justice Department would be likely to support trans* students.

Every Democratic candidate is, however, decidedly on board with this DoJ position. Which is a positive development. But it's not enough.

Federal protections are crucial. The sooner the better.

[H/T to Shaker aforalpha.]

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