The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the lawsuit filed by 17-year-old transgender student Gavin Grimm against the Gloucester County School Board in his long-running fight to use boys' restrooms.
Grimm was born an anatomical girl, but identifies as a boy. His is the first transgender restroom rights case to go before the high court.
Oral arguments could be heard in February or March, but it is unclear how the case will be affected by the election of Donald Trump and the need to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Grimm, a senior at Gloucester High School, sued the school division in 2015 over its restroom use policy, passed in December 2014, which requires students to use the restroom associated with their biological sex. After passing the policy, the school division increased privacy measures in its restrooms and opened three unisex restrooms to all students at the high school.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on Grimm's behalf, argues that the school division's policy violates Title IX and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools, requires school divisions to provide equal restrooms for male and female students separated on the basis of sex.
The School Board argues that Title IX does not state that gender identification is included in the definition of sex and that "transgender" is not a protected class under the Constitution.
In June, federal Judge Robert Doumar issued an injunction requiring Gloucester schools to allow Grimm to use the boys' restrooms. But in August, the Supreme Court granted the School Board's request to block that injunction pending its appeal. The injunction remains on hold, meaning Grimm is not allowed to use the boys' restrooms while the case proceeds.
According to court documents, Grimm has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a mismatch between an individual's gender identity and biological sex at birth. While he identifies as a male, he is still a female biologically and anatomically. He has said he lives all aspects of his life as a boy as a part of his ongoing transition, which includes hormone treatments and therapy.
Transgender students in Wisconsin, Illinois and other states have followed Grimm's lead, suing their school divisions for discrimination over restroom and locker room use.
Hubbard can be reached by phone at 757-298-5834.