[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday in favor of a transgender Virginia high school student who sued his school for discrimination. Gavin Grimm, 16, of Gloucester County, Virginia, sued his school for not allowing him to use the boys bathroom. The school had decided on a policy [NPR report] that boys and girls bathrooms were to be used only by students of “corresponding biological genders.” The school later provided a unisex bathroom for Grimm to use. Grimm argued before the court that the school violated Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 [materials], which prohibits discrimination based on sex in any federally funded educational program. The Department of Education [official website] had issued a memo in 2015 stating that schools must treat transgender students consistently with their gender identities. In a statement [press release], Grimm stated, “I feel so relieved and vindicated by the court’s ruling. .. Today’s decision gives me hope that my fight will help other kids avoid discriminatory treatment at school.”
Tuesday’s ruling could have potential ramifications for a recently passed North Carolina law [JURIST report], as North Carolina is also in the Fourth Circuit.. Under the new law, cities and counties would be unable to pass laws allowing transgender people to use the public restroom or locker room that corresponds with their gender identity. It also requires public school students to use the school bathroom or locker room that corresponds tot their sex at birth. Rights groups have already filed a legal challenge, but Attorney General Roy Cooper stated he would not defend the law in court [JURIST reports]. Last week North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory issued an executive order that he said was meant to clarify the controversial law [JURIST report]. In a statement on the order, the governor said that the mandate of gender-specific restrooms and locker rooms in government buildings and schools would be maintained but that he would also seek legislation in a short session to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in state court.