Supreme Court sends transgender rights case back to lower court

The Supreme Court on March 6 announced it is sending Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to be reconsidered in light of the Departments of Justice and Education rescinding a Title IX Guidance clarifying protections for transgender students.

“The Supreme Court has missed an opportunity to end the painful discrimination currently faced by tens of thousands of transgender students nationwide,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, the nation’s largest group dedicated to protecting LGBT teachers and students and promoting tolerance in schools.

The remand means that the Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments in the transgender rights case on March 28.

The Fourth Circuit of Appeals originally ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm in his case challenging a Virginia school board’s decision to force him to use a separate, single-stall restroom that no other student is required to use.

Joshua Block, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT Project and lead counsel for Gavin Grimm, said the Supreme Court’s decision did not change the meaning of the law.

“Title IX and the Constitution protect Gavin and other transgender students from discrimination,” Block said in a news release. “While we’re disappointed that the Supreme Court will not be hearing Gavin’s case this term, the overwhelming level of support shown for Gavin and trans students by people across the country throughout this process shows that the American people have already moved in the right direction and that the rights of trans people cannot be ignored.”

Block said the legal fight is taking a detour, not the end of the road.

Gavin’s case has drawn support from a broad coalition of civil rights organizations, businesses, law enforcement agencies, education groups and more.

The National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García said on March 6, “We, as educators, have a moral, legal, and professional duty to support all students, including our transgender students, and nothing about the Supreme Court’s decision today to remand Gavin’s case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit changes that.

“While we are disappointed that the Supreme Court deferred deciding whether Gavin’s rights were violated when he was discriminated against at school for being transgender, we are confident that the Fourth Circuit, and eventually the Supreme Court, will ultimately vindicate his rights.”