News Law and Policy

School Board to Appeals Court: Slow Down Gavin Grimm Case

Jessica Mason Pieklo

If the federal appeals court schedules arguments in the Gavin Grimm case for its next session, he may have an order from the court in time for his high school graduation.

A federal appeals court is considering how quickly to move along the case of Gavin Grimm after the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back down to reconsider the scope of transgender rights in federally-funded schools.

Grimm is the transgender student who sued the Gloucester County, Virginia, school board for discrimination after it instituted a policy stating students must use bathrooms corresponding with their biological sex rather than their gender identity. A district court judge initially dismissed Grimm’s case. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision and ruled Grimm should be allowed to proceed on his claim that the school board’s policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

Attorneys representing Grimm have asked the Fourth Circuit to put the case on an expedited schedule and hear arguments on whether Title IX protects students like Grimm from discrimination on the basis of their status as transgender. They request the appeals court hear the case in its May sitting, which would be sometime between May 9 and May 11. 

Attorneys for the school board object to Grimm’s request and argue the expedited schedule does not give the district sufficient time to prepare and respond for the case. The school board claims that an accelerated timeline prevents the Trump administration from offering its view of whether Title IX protects transgender students like Grimm.

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The Roberts Court in October agreed to hear Grimm’s case. This month, the Court sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit after the Trump administration withdrew federal agency guidance issued by the Obama administration notifying federally-funded schools that Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination includes policies that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, such as the bathroom policy at issue in Grimm’s case.

Attorneys for the school board want the appeals court to hear arguments in September, which would mean an order past Grimm’s graduation date.

That is the same time the Fourth Circuit is scheduled to hear arguments in the case challenging the North Carolina GOP’s anti-LGBTQ “bathroom bill,” HB2.

Should the court grant Grimm’s request, it’s possible it would issue an order by the time Grimm graduates from high school later this summer, Grimm’s attorney Joshua Block from the America Civil Liberties Union told reporters this week.

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