Metro Weekly

School Bathroom Battles: Virginia fights against trans students

A ruling against a Virginia transgender student could bolster opponents of LGBT nondiscrimination policies

Gavin Grimm and legal team - Photo: via
Gavin Grimm and legal team – Photo: via

A transgender male student in Virginia can no longer use the public restroom at his high school. Instead, he will be relegated to a staff bathroom or other “alternative private” facility after a federal judge ruled against him on Friday, Sept. 4.

Gavin Grimm, a junior at Gloucester High School in Gloucester County, Va., had sought a preliminary injunction to allow him to use the boys’ restroom, in keeping with his gender identity. But U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar issued an order rejecting that motion, prohibiting Grimm from using the boys’ restroom and locker room facilities when he begins school this week.

Doumar did not provide any reasons for why he denied Grimm’s request for a preliminary injunction, merely stating in his order that an opinion further detailing his reasoning would be forthcoming.

Grimm’s lawyers said they were “deeply disappointed” with Doumar’s decision, calling the school board’s restroom policy “harmful and stigmatizing.”

“As a result of the decision, Gavin will have to start the school year under a demeaning and stigmatizing policy that relegates him to separate restrooms from his peers,” said Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. “We expect today’s decision to be reversed on appeal.”

After coming out as transgender last year, Grimm and his mother notified school authorities, who agreed to allow Grimm access to the boys’ restroom. Grimm used those facilities for nearly two months, without incident, before someone complained to the school board.

The school board was then inundated with complaints from concerned parents and community members, backed by groups like the Traditional Values Coalition and the Virginia Christian Alliance, which have taken a firm stance on requiring students in schools to use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex. As a result, the board voted to adopt a policy requiring transgender students to use a staff restroom or other facility separate from the general population.

“It is difficult to face another school year of being singled out and treated differently from other students,” Grimm said in a statement. “I am determined to move forward because this case is not just about me, but about all transgender students in Virginia.”

Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!