A federal judge ruled Friday that the Gloucester County School Board violated Gavin Grimm's rights by banning him from using the boys bathroom.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said in its decision that the School Board discriminated against Grimm, who transitioned from female to male while at Gloucester High School, by passing a policy limiting a student's bathroom use to the bathroom of their biological sex and by refusing to change Grimm's transcript to say "male."

William "Jarret" Lee, the chairman of the School Board, did not return a phone call seeking comment after normal business hours on Friday. The School Board is expected to appeal the ruling, The Daily Press reported.

Grimm, who graduated in 2017, is now 20 years old and attends Berkeley City College in California. The ACLU of Virginia represented Grimm.

"Trans people belong in schools. Trans people belong EVERYWHERE," the ACLU said in a tweet celebrating the ruling.

The case has been in court for four years, starting when Grimm was a student and he sued the county School Board for violating his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection of the laws. He was initially allowed to use the boys bathroom but, following complaints from parents and students, was later told he couldn't.

Grimm's lawsuit was set to go before the U.S. Supreme Court but the country's highest court declined to hear the case because a previous ruling relied on Obama-era recommendations that aimed to help school administrators support transgender students and the Trump administration revoked that guidance.

The school district argued in court that it had treated Grimm fairly by allowing him to use his birth sex bathroom or a standalone bathroom. A lawyer for the board said last month in court that gender is not a "societal construct" and Grimm remains a female.

"One need only trace the arduous journey that this litigation has followed since its inception over four years ago to understand that passion and conviction have infused the arguments and appeals along the way," wrote Arenda L. Wright Allen, the district court judge who ruled in the case.

Wright Allen said the policy of forcing students to use the bathroom associated with their biological sex violates the U.S. constitution and federal law.

In 2018, Wright Allen denied a motion by the School Board to dismiss the lawsuit.

President Barack Obama appointed Wright Allen to the bench in 2011. In February 2014, on the night before Valentine’s Day, Wright Allen struck down Virginia’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

In her 2014 ruling the judge invoked the landmark Loving v. Virginia case which overturned laws banning interracial marriage.

“Tradition is revered in the commonwealth, and often rightly so,” the judge wrote. “However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.”

Grimm was awarded $1 and the court ruled that his official school records be changed to say "male." The School Board must also pay Grimm's court costs and attorneys fees.

Get breaking news emails

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

jmattingly@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6012

Twitter: @jmattingly306​

Recommended for you

Load comments