( San Francisco, CA, August 3, 2016 )Today, in a 5-3 vote in which Justice Breyer noted that his vote for a stay was a mere "courtesy," the U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of the Fourth Circuit's recent decision in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board holding that federal law requires Virginia's public schools to permit Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy, to use the same restrooms as other boys. The stay will remain in place only while the Court considers whether to review the Fourth Circuit's decision.
Statement by National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter:
"While disappointing, today's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is just a temporary delay. Especially in light of Justice Breyer's statement that his vote for a stay was a mere 'courtesy' to preserve the status quo while the Court considers whether to review the decision, this should not be taken as any sign of where a majority of the Court is leaning on the substantive question of whether Title IX protects transgender students. Across the country, courts and policymakers are recognizing that discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination. We are confident that if and when this issue reaches the Supreme Court, the Court will affirm that recognition."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit case on behalf of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health and other medical and mental health organizations, explaining the current medical consensus that being treated the same as other youth is critical to a transgender young person's long term health, well-being, and social development.
The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) expressed disappointment in a decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a lower court's order forbidding a Virginia school district from enforcing its discriminatory ban on transgender students using bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. The 5-3 order in Gloucester County School Board v. Grimm allows the school board's discriminatory policy to remain in place while the Supreme Court awaits an application by the school board to have its full appeal heard by the Supreme Court. A final decision in the case would likely occur well into the school year.
"Today's Supreme Court order is deeply disappointing and subjects Gavin Grimm and students like him to unsafe and discriminatory conditions as they begin returning to school in the coming weeks," said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. "No young person should wake up in the morning fearful of bullying or discrimination during the school day ahead. Every day that discrimination is allowed to continue, transgender students are put at risk of harm. While we remain optimistic that this is a temporary setback in the larger effort to ensure that transgender students are treated with dignity and respect, time is of the essence and any delay infringes on these students' right to a safe and quality education."
In late May, the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request by the Gloucester County School Board to rehear Grimm's lawsuit. Grimm claims that the school district violated his federal civil rights under Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 by denying him access to the boy's restroom consistent with his gender identity.
In April, a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, in a 2-1 decision,the U.S. Department of Education's interpretation of Title IX as protecting transgender students from discrimination, including allowing them to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity.