In December 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of Virginian 10th grader Gavin Grimm after his school board adopted a bathroom policy that forced him to use the women’s restroom.
Grimm is transgender and suffers from gender dysphoria. He had been using the men’s restroom without issue until the school board voted for the discriminatory rule. The policy required transgender students to use restroom facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use a separate, private facility.
In a press release on the matter, the ACLU reasoned that gender discrimination is equal to sex discrimination, which is in direct violation of the 1972 Title IX prohibition of sexually based discrimination in federally funded schools.
On June 30, the DOJ affirmed that Title IX does indeed protect the rights of transgender students, and more specifically the right to use restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity. A brief was filed by the DOJ defending the position that Title IX prohibits discrimination against transgender students and urged the court to grant Grimm a court order requiring the school to allow him to use the boys’ restroom before the new school year begins. Support for transgender protection is not a new stance for the federal government, which has expressed transgender Title IX protection in other Title IX related actions.
National Center for Lesbian Rights staff attorney and lead attorney on Grimm’s case (Student v. Arcadia Unified School Disctict) Asaf Orr issued the following statement: “We commend the Department of Justice for taking the steps necessary to uphold the promise of Title IX and ensure that transgender students are affirmed and supported in school. Allowing schools to discriminate by forcing transgender students to use a separate restroom is demeaning and exposes them to relentless harassment and abuse from peers. The federal government’s position is not only consistent with decades of legal precedent, but also the experiences of many school districts throughout the country that are implementing inclusive policies without incident. As those districts have learned, affirming a transgender student’s gender identity is an important part of creating a safe and inclusive school where all students can thrive.”
And just yesterday, news broke of the Girls Scouts of Western Washington’s refusal to accept a $100,000 donation from a transphobic donor who asked that the money be returned if it were going to be used to support transgender girls. The group, which champions the motto that Girl Scouts is for every girl, received and returned the donation last month. But just this week the group set up an Indiegogo page to make up for the lost funds. It has raised over twice the original donation amount since launching on Monday.