Metro Weekly

Laverne Cox gives shout out to Gavin Grimm at Grammys

Actress calls attention to upcoming court case that could decide fate of transgender students in schools

Laverne Cox – Photo: KOMUnews, via Wikimedia.

During her appearance at the Grammys, transgender actress Laverne Cox gave a very powerful shout-out to Gavin Grimm, the transgender student challenging his county school board’s policy that bans him from using the boys’ restroom.

“Please Google Gavin Grimm. He’s going to the Supreme Court in March,” said Cox, who was onstage to introduce a performance by Metallica and Lady Gaga. “#StandWithGavin.” Cox also posted information about Grimm to her Instagram and Twitter feeds.

The hashtag #StandWithGavin has been trending on Twitter and other social media following Cox’s remarks.

Grimm told The Washington Post that he was not expecting to be mentioned by name at the awards show. But his mother was watching in another room and alerted him to the fact that Cox had mentioned his name.

“I was just so thrilled because I love her,” Grimm said. “She’s just a beautiful person inside and out. I was really touched and thrilled and honored that that was the first thing out of her mouth.”

Grimm, 17, first rose to prominence two years ago when the Gloucester County School Board voted to institute a policy that would bar students from using the restroom not designated for their biological sex at birth. Even though Grimm had used the boys’ restroom without incident for almost two months, the school board caved to demands from angry parents and conservative activists to approve that policy. Grimm sued, alleging his rights had been violated under both the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and under Title IX.

In April of last year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Grimm, finding that he could pursue a claim of sex discrimination under Title IX. The Gloucester County School Board appealed that decision, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit’s reasoning. The high court agreed to take up the case, scheduling oral arguments for Mar. 28.

Grimm’s case has become particularly important following the election of Donald Trump as president. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice and Department of Education had largely relied on an internal interpretation by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights that Title IX’s prohibitions against sex discrimination apply to transgender students who are discriminated against because of their gender identity. But now, with an administration that is seen as not as friendly toward transgender rights, either a Grimm victory or a defeat could have wide-ranging implications for transgender students in other schools who wish to use facilities matching their gender identities.

“For the last 20 years, the the overwhelming majority of lower courts have been holding that out civil rights laws against sex discrimination protect transgender people,” Joshua Block, an attorney for the ACLU, which is representing Grimm, told NBC News. “Gavin’s case is the first time the Supreme Court will consider the question and reaffirm that transgender people are protected. With a presidential new administration, these protections are more critical than ever.”

The ACLU previously posted a video on Feb. 3 showing Grimm being fitted for a suit to wear during oral arguments. The video interviews both Grimm and his mother, Deirdre, about their experience.

“I didn’t even know what transgender was when this all started,” Deirdre Grimm says in the video. “One of the first things I read was that almost 50 percent of these kids try to commit suicide. As a parent, that’s all you really need to support your child.”

See the ACLU’s video of Grimm below:

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

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