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SCOTUS defers to Trump on transgender student rights

Gavin Grimm and his mother (Photo: ACLU)

Gavin Grimm and his mother (Photo: ACLU)

by Alania Romain
In a simple one-sentence order today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of transgender Virginia student Gavin Grimm being able to access the bathroom that accorded with his gender identity. It instead instructed the Fourth Circuit to reconsider the case in light of the Trump administration’s withdrawal of its predecessor’s interpretation of federal anti-discrimination laws.
The rights of transgender students in America to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity has been a majorly controversial issue, with advocates arguing that schools are unfairly discriminating against trans students, and critics arguing that trans rights put others at risk.
In May 2016, former President Barack Obama issued a directive including gender identity as part of the anti-discrimination law Title IX.
What does the Supreme Court transgender bathroom directive mean for trans kids? It mostly means that the debate will continue to be ongoing. But supporters of Obama’s stance on Title IX worry that it signals a return to state-based decisions over transgender student rights, which will result in discrimination against them.
According to the Associated Press, the Supreme Court decided Monday not to issue a ruling in an anti-discrimination case involving transgender Virginia high school senior Gavin Grimm. Grimm challenged the Gloucester County school board’s 2014 decision to bar transgender students from using the bathroom that matches their gender identities, and Grimm ultimately won a court order in his favor by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which argued that the Obama administration’s guidance on Title IX meant that the school board had “impermissibly discriminated against him,” according to The Hill. rights for transgender students in public schools, whether or not the administration agrees with that position. But such a finding is unlikely, and students like Grimm will have to hope for vindication in that “open and inclusive process to take place at the local level” instead of the federal courts. Otherwise they are just another example of collateral damage from the events of last November 8.
The case was expected to be heard by the Supreme Court later this month, but after the Department of Justice and the Education Department rescinded the Obama directive, the Supreme Court chose to throw out the lower ruling that sided with Grimm. The case is now expected to go back to a Virginia court, which will have to reassess Title IX and its implications for transgender students independent of the Obama Administration’s guidance. According to the Associated Press, similar cases are pending in other parts of the country, and will likely receive the same ruling.
One major difficulty with administering a ruling in these cases is that Title IX’s position in regards to transgender students depends on legal interpretation. The Obama directive argued that the law, which protects students from discrimination in all federally-funded schools, also “encompasses discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status,” according to The Advocate, and that “a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity.” In addition to allowing transgender students from using the appropriate bathroom, the directive also noted that schools had an obligation to use transgender students’ preferred names and gender pronouns, regardless of what appears on their official school records.
That was an important step ahead for LGBTQ rights, but the directive was not legally binding, and 12 states responded by filing injunctions against it, according to CNN. Two states have since won national injunctions (which are currently still in place), and now that the Trump administration has signaled it’s desire to move away fromi transgender rights. (-Romper.com)


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