Transgender Teen Gavin Grimm Prevails in Bathroom Access Case

All Gavin Grimm wanted to do was use the bathroom. He wasn’t expecting to make a federal case out of it.

But that’s exactly what happened after the Gloucester County School Board targeted Grimm with a 2014 policy requiring students to use bathrooms aligned with their “biological sex,” or to stick with the single-stall private restrooms.

This move was driven by bigoted parents who complained when Grimm switched restrooms in the course of his social transition. Grimm argued that this was discriminatory: After all, he’s a guy, and he should use the guy’s restroom — not be forced to use sometimes hard-to-reach private bathrooms as a “compromise.”

So, with the assistance of the ACLU, he went to court. Grimm’s high-profile case ended up highlighting the issue of restroom discrimination at a time when the Obama administration was just starting to develop inclusive guidance for transgender students. Meanwhile, multiple states were considering “bathroom bills” that kept trans people out of the restroom.

Four years after he was told he didn’t deserve full access to the restroom, Grimm finally won, with a federal judge ruling that the school violated the law.

As a trailblazer for trans rights, Grimm has at times faced a lonely and difficult road. His case bounced through the courts, even reaching the Supreme Court, which tossed it back down to the lower court. Throughout the legal wrangling, the school district insisted that it had done nothing wrong. The latest case was actually a denial of a petition for dismissal, with the judge saying the school district had not submitted evidence compelling enough to dismiss his suit.

While Grimm fought it out in court, the law evolved around him, providing the caselaw and legislation the judge drew upon to illustrate that his case was merited. Even as the judge argued that the law was on Grimm’s side, however, the Trump administration has been busy stripping protections from transgender students and the trans community at large. And Trump is using judicial nominations to stack courts across the country with judges who will be hostile to plaintiffs like Grimm.

The school board can continue to appeal, and it may opt to do so rather than holding a settlement conference with Grimm as directed by the judge.

For Grimm, this victory is bittersweet: He finally holds a legal decision that the school board violated his rights, but he graduated in 2017. And without an assurance that the school board is done with the matter, there’s a risk that this will continue to play out in court.

For Grimm, it was never just about securing his own rights, though. He hopes this sets a “precedent” that will help other trans students, including those currently attending Gloucester County schools. Together with other suits affirming the right to use the restroom best aligned with someone’s actual gender, his case will be used to extend protections to other trans people — not just in school, but beyond.

At a time when trans rights are under threat from the federal government, and many states are emboldened to abridge the rights of their citizens, this is an important moment. It’s worth noting that the school board wasted a lot of money on this fight that could have been better invested in providing services to students.

Photo credit: Ted Eytan

41 comments

Marie W
Marie W24 days ago

Thanks for this post

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Paulo R
Paulo R4 months ago

signed

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Dave fleming
Past Member 6 months ago

Signed

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Dave fleming
Past Member 6 months ago

tfs

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Leo C
Leo C6 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Leo C
Leo C6 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Janis K
Janis K6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M6 months ago

Christina S, Gavin Grimm identifies as and is transitioning to MALE. Meaning he should be allowed to use the MEN'S room without there being a big stink about it (pun intended). Being transgender is NOT a choice-they are quite literally born in the wrong body, identifying as one but with the body of the other. And it's a SCIENTIFIC FACT-see John Doucette's comment for further evidence of such. WHAT is the big fuss about? Transgender people do NOT want to assault others or flash at them or anything like that! They just want to use the facilities that match their gender identity, and their sole purpose for using them is the same as anybody else's-to use the toilet, wash their hands afterwards, maybe check their appearance in the mirror to make sure they're nice and neat, and then head out. In other words, THE SAME AS ANYBODY ELSE! Get over your ignorant bigotry already!

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pam w
pam w6 months ago

I'm sure that a lot of the hatred shown here, directed toward same-gender couples/transgender people is really a deep attraction to them.

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Chad A
Chad Anderson6 months ago

Thank you.

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