By Tyler Kwon
On Monday, March 6, the Supreme Court decided that it would not hear the case of Gavin Grimm, 17, a transgender boy seeking the right to use the boys’ restrooms at his Virginia high school, effectively sending the case back to a lower court. The court was due to hear Grimm’s case on March 28.
On February 23, Trump rescinded President Obama’s instructions regarding the use of restrooms by transgender students, which advised that public schools allow students to use restrooms that matched their gender identities. In accordance with this instruction, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled to defend Grimm’s rights until the Supreme Court made a decision.
The decision to reject this case, which some activists argue is a major setback in the protection of transgender rights, reflects a shift towards traditional, conservative values that has occurred since the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
Grimm’s legal battle with his high school in Gloucester County, Virginia, first began in 2014. Word had broken out that he had been given permission to use the school’s boys’ restrooms by his principal, which according to the Washington Post, led to heated public debate regarding accommodations to transgender students.
The school board then decided that students must use restrooms corresponding to the sex of students assigned at birth, prompting Grimm to sue on the grounds that this was a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which states that any discrimination on the basis of sex is unlawful.
Sending the case back to lower court for reevaluation has been widely considered a further delay in satisfying the urgent need for the increased rights and protections afforded to transgender students.
Despite this setback, transgender rights advocates have remained hopeful that the rights of Grimm and other transgenders students will be met with success.
“This is a detour, not the end of the road, and we’ll continue to fight for Gavin and other transgender people to ensure that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Joshua Block, senior staff attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project stated on their website.