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Court rules in favor of transgender student in bathroom case

An appeals court ruled on Tuesday in favor of a transgender student who says that his school violated anti-discrimination laws by not allowing him to use the bathroom that matches his gender.

Gavin Grimm, now a junior at Gloucester High School in Virginia, transitioned to male during his sophomore year. The school allowed him to use the men’s bathroom for seven weeks and change his name in the school record, decisions that did not receive opposition from other students, The Guardian reported.

But parental complaints and a series of public meetings, where some attendees called Grimm a “young lady” and a “freak,” pressured the district to reverse its decision. Grimm sued the Gloucester Country school board in a lower court last fall and is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Tuesday’s ruling reverses the lower court’s ruling and sends it back for a rehearing, according to the Washington Post.

The ruling falls in line with the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX, which covers discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. The Department of Education released official guidance in 2014 stating that under that law, students must be allowed to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

“Today’s fourth circuit decision is a vindication for Gavin and a reinforcement of the Department of Education’s policy,” Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said. “With this decision, we hope that schools and legislators will finally get the message that excluding transgender kids from the restrooms is unlawful sex discrimination.”

This marks the first time a federal appeals court has addressed the topic of how Title IX relates to transgender students in school bathrooms. The fourth circuit also covers North Carolina, the state that passed HB 2 in March. The bill, which mandates that people use public bathrooms that correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth, has received backlash from public figures and advocates for the LGBTQ community since it passed.

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