Metro Weekly

4th Circuit refuses to stay order allowing Gavin Grimm to use the boys’ restroom

Appeals court's rejection of Gloucester County School Board's request follows a similar rejection by a federal judge

Gavin Grimm - Photo: Todd Franson
Gavin Grimm – Photo: Todd Franson

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the Gloucester County School Board’s request to place a hold on a preliminary injunction that prevents the school board from enforcing its transgender restroom policy and allows junior Gavin Grimm to use the boys’ restroom.

The injunction was issued last month by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Doumar, who is currently hearing Grimm’s challenge to the board’s restroom policy. Under the policy, transgender students like Grimm must use either the bathroom of their biological sex at birth, the nurse’s bathroom, or another “alternative, private facility,” such as one of three unisex bathrooms that were previously broom closets that are made available to all students at Gloucester High School. Grimm’s lawyers with the ACLU and ACLU of Virginia have argued that the board’s policy violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.

After Doumar granted the injunction, the school board asked him to stay his own ruling. But after Doumar refused to issue a stay, the school board appealed to the 4th Circuit, arguing that failing to place a hold on the injunction would “irreparably harm” the wider school community. The board claims that allowing Grimm to use the boys’ restroom — as he did during his sophomore year for a few months, without incident — undermines administrators’ ability to maintain order at school, violates the privacy rights of other students who do not wish to share facilities with transgender students, and may lead to parents pulling their children from public schools in the county.

The school board plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to overturn an underlying ruling by the 4th Circuit that paved the way for Doumar’s granting of the injunction. In that historic ruling, marking the first time a federal appeals court has ruled Title IX’s protections apply to transgender students, a three-judge panel directed Doumar to allow Grimm to pursue an injunction to use the boys’ bathroom and restored part of his lawsuit claiming that Gloucester County’s policy violates his rights under Title IX. The board has until Aug. 29 to file its appeal to the Supreme Court.

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