(San Francisco, CA, April 19, 2016)—GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) today applaud a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which confirms policy set by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, that ensures Gavin Grimm, a 15-year-old transgender student in Virginia, will be fully respected as a boy at his school including in being able to access the boys’ room.
Gavin’s use of the boys’ room prompted the Gloucester County School Board to enact a policy excluding transgender students from using the same restrooms as their peers, even though no other students complained when Gavin used the boys’ room. The ACLU filed suit against the school board on behalf of Gavin, arguing that the school’s actions violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and constitutional guarantees of equal protection. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.
The decision issued today reversed the district court’s dismissal of Gavin’s Title IX claim and instructed the lower court to defer to policy set by the Department of Education which requires schools to provide transgender students access to restroom facilities based on the student’s gender identity.
An amicus brief authored by GLAD, NCLR, and Goodwin Procter LLP on behalf of medical and mental health associations argued that being able to use the same bathroom as other students at school is critical for the healthy development of transgender adolescents.
“This is a great decision affirming important policy set by the U.S. Department of Education that transgender students be fully integrated into the school community consistent with the student’s lived experience,” said Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director for GLAD.
“This case sets an important precedent for all schools,” said Asaf Orr, the Transgender Youth Project Attorney for NCLR. “It is their obligation to promote welcoming environments for transgender students, rather than stigmatize, isolate, and ultimately harm transgender students.”
GLAD’s and NCLR’s brief cites peer-reviewed research to show that 1) schools play a crucial role in child development; 2) peer group belonging is critical for adolescents; 3) identity development is the task of every adolescent; 4) identity development for transgender adolescents involves consolidating their gender identity; 5) external factors such as stigma, social segregation, and discrimination can harm the development of identity in transgender youth; 6) external factors such as social integration, school support, and the leadership of adults can support the healthy development of transgender adolescents.