The Departments of Education and Justice have firmly come down on the side of a transgender teen who is suing for the right to use the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity, reports the Associated Press.
16-year-old Gavin Grimm of Virginia has been told by the Gloucester County School Board that he must use either the women’s restroom or a unisex restroom at his school:
Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, told his parents he was transgender in April 2014 and was allowed to use the boys’ restrooms at Gloucester High School during the last school year. After some other families complained, the school board voted 6-1 to restrict students with “transgender issues” to single-stall unisex facilities or those corresponding to their biological sex.
The ACLU sued the school district on his behalf. After the policy was upheld by a federal judge in September, the ruling was appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where it is currently pending.
The U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice today weighed in via an amicus curiae brief, saying the Gloucester County School Board rule is in violation of Title IX, which prohibits sexual discrimination in education.
The policy denies Grimm “a benefit that every other student at this school enjoys: access to restrooms that are consistent with his or her gender identity,” lawyers for the two departments wrote. “Treating a student differently from other students because his birth-assigned sex diverges from his gender identity constitutes differential treatment on the basis of sex under Title IX.”
The brief is not legally binding, but it does articulate the Obama administration’s position on the civil rights of transgender people, and affirms the equal worth of transgender kids like Grimm, who, being a teenager, has enough confusing and harrowing shit to worry about without his school forcing him to use the wrong damn bathroom.
The brief “sends a crucial message to schools across the country — transgender youth are valuable members of our community who are entitled to full protection of the law,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said. “No one should be humiliated or marginalized by the adults responsible for helping them to achieve.”
The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has reportedly been weighing in on this issue more forcefully in the last two years, having issued a pair of memos last year which make clear their position that Title IX “entitles transgender students to be treated in accordance with their expressed gender.”