Victory! Federal Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Transgender Student in Restroom Access Case

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April 19, 2016
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today ruled in favor of transgender male student Gavin Grimm in his challenge to Gloucester High School’s discriminatory restroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers by requiring them to use “alternative, private” facilities.

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit marks the first time that a federal appeals court has determined that Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use sex segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity, and therefore could have major implications for North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which forces transgender individuals to use the wrong restroom in schools and other government buildings. North Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit.

 

 

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal released the following statement:

"Today’s ruling makes plain that North Carolina’s House Bill 2 violates Title IX by discriminating against transgender students and forcing them to use the wrong restroom at school. This mean-spirited law not only encourages discrimination and endangers transgender students – it puts at risk billions of dollars in federal funds that North Carolina receives for secondary and post-secondary schools.

"House Bill 2 exposes North Carolinians to discrimination and harm, is wreaking havoc on the state’s economy and reputation, and now more than ever, places the state’s federal education funding in jeopardy. We again call on Governor McCrory and the General Assembly to repeal House Bill 2 and replace it with full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people."

Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina recently filed a lawsuit challenging House Bill 2. The lawsuit argues that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state.

The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.

The Obama administration is presently considering whether North Carolina’s House Bill 2 makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways, and housing.

North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary schools, all of which remains at jeopardy given the state’s policy of systemically violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students.

Today’s decision reinstates Gavin’s claim that the discriminatory restroom policy violates Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law prohibiting discrimination in schools based on sex.