Metro Weekly

Fourth Circuit refuses to stay its ruling in Grimm case

Gloucester County School Board dealt another defeat as it plans to appeal to the Supreme Court

Gavin Grimm - Photo: Todd Franson

Gavin Grimm – Photo: Todd Franson

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused a motion from Gloucester County School Board. They demanded a stay on an April ruling, which allowed transgender student Gavin Grimm to pursue an injunction that would allow him to use the boys’ restroom.

A Fourth Circuit panel of judges voted 2-1 against the school board. The three judges were the same ones who had handed down the April ruling, again with a 2-1 split. In that decision, they determined that Grimm had the right to pursue both the injunction to use the boys’ restroom and a claim of sex discrimination under Title IX, restoring part of a lawsuit that a lower court judge had tossed out.

The decision marks yet another defeat for the Gloucester County School Board, which had implemented a policy requiring Grimm to use a “private, alternative” facility instead of the boys’ restroom. In April, the Fourth Circuit gave significant deference to the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX. The Department’s Office of Civil Rights had previously determined in a case out of Illinois that denying transgender students access to facilities corresponding with their gender identity is a form of sex discrimination.

Following the April decision, the board asked for an en banc review, where all 15 sitting members of the Fourth Circuit would rehear Grimm’s appeal asking that his lawsuit be restored. But the Fourth Circuit refused to rehear the case, with Judge Paul Niemeyer, who cast the sole vote against Grimm, urging the school board to appeal the case to the Supreme Court as soon as possible.

Niemeyer and other conservatives hope that an unfavorable ruling against Grimm will help in challenging recent guidance issued by the Obama administration. In that guidance, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice have directed school boards and administrators to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that reflect their gender identity, rather than their biological sex at birth.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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