DoE, DoJ step up for Gavin Grimm in 4th Circuit

 photo Gavin_zpsuoaqpjow.jpgWhen last we encountered Gavin Grimm, Gloucester County Schools were still preventing the trans teen from using the boys room and the district had received the blessing of District Court Judge Robert Doumar in Norfolk.

Gavin's ACLU attorneys have asked an appeals court to replace Doumar, who denied his request for a preliminary injunction, because Doumar has made statements that he is "suspicious of modern medical science regarding gender identity." The lawyers say that Doumar has repeatedly referenced Gavin's "mental disorder" and accused him and them of just seeking publicity.

Yesterday the Department of Educations Office of the General Council and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division filed a 40-page friend-of-the-court brief with the 4th US Circuit Court on behalf of Grimm.

Grimm, a student at Gloucester County High School, claims in a lawsuit he filed against the Gloucester County School Board in June that the policy violates Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Denying a transgender boy access to the boys’ restroom is often much more than a mere inconvenience or limitation on his ability to use the restroom — it can be an effective denial of a restroom altogether.

As a result of such a policy, transgender students like G.G. are denied the ability to participate fully in and take advantage of their school’s educational programs. No one could reasonably expect a student to make it through an entire school day without access to a restroom; any student who attempted to do so would likely experience discomfort and anxiety affecting his ability to concentrate during class, further diminishing his educational experience.

GCSB’s restroom policy denies G.G. a benefit that all of his peers enjoy — access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity — because, unlike them, his birth-assigned does not align with his gender identity,

The policy subjects G.G. to differential treatment, and the basis for that treatment — the divergence between his gender identity and what GCSB deemed his “biological gender” — is unquestionably a ‘sex-based consideration.’

Although promoting safety and privacy are legitimate goals in the abstract, neither of these rationales can justify a policy that denies G.G. — and other students like him — not just access to the gender-appropriate restroom but, more fundamentally, an equal opportunity at an education.

--The DoE/DoJ brief

The Obama administration, following the analysis in a 2012 ruling from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has found that the ban on sex discrimination in existing civil rights laws includes a ban on discrimination against transgender people.

Wednesday night’s filing, however, is the first time the administration has weighed in on the issue in an appeals court. That is an important distinction because a decision in the case would apply to all federal cases filed within the circuit — not just to this student’s case.

Prohibiting a transgender male student from using boys’ restrooms, when other non-transgender male students face no such restriction, deprives him not only of equal educational opportunity but also “of equal status, respect, and dignity,’”

--The DoE/DoJ brief

The full brief is available at BuzzFeed.

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