Washington, DC — Today the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a major ruling, siding with Virginia transgender teenager Gavin Grimm and declaring that his local school board’s move to ban him from using the boys’ restroom at school violates federal law. The ruling is a significant victory that confirms the approach to inclusion of transgender students in Massachusetts taken by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The ruling noted: “At the heart of this appeal is whether Title IX requires schools to provide transgender students access to restrooms congruent with their gender identity,” and went on to note that denying Grimm access to the boys’ restroom – or forcing him to use a non-communal use facility, “is tantamount to humiliation and a continuing mark of difference among his fellow students.”
“Today’s decision is consistent with Massachusetts’ own position in support of transgender students in public schools, and reiterates the commonsense notion that transgender children, like all children, should be focused on their education while at school,” said Carly Burton, campaign manager of Freedom Massachusetts. “This ruling affirms what we already know: transgender people should be treated with dignity and respect in all aspects of their lives without fear of discrimination. Transgender boys are boys, and they belong in the boys’ room with the other boys; and transgender girls are girls, and they belong in the girls’ room with other girls. Anything less than these full protections is a violation of basic rights that should be ensured to all. Massachusetts lawmakers should show leadership by bringing our state’s transgender protections bill to a vote and making it law this session. The momentum in the rest of the country shows that we are on the right side of history.”
The Fourth Circuit covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Massachusetts guidelines passed in 2011 already support protections for transgender students in public schools, but SB 735/HB 1577, which is pending in the legislature, would extend full protections to transgender people in public places, including access to public restrooms.