The United States Supreme Court on Monday said it would not hear the case of Gavin Grimm, the transgender student who sued a school district in Virginia for the right to use bathrooms consistent with his gender identity.
The Supreme Court had been scheduled to hear the case, but in light of the Trump administration’s decision to roll back protections for trans students two weeks ago, the case is being sent back to be heard again in a lower court.
Grimm has been fighting the Gloucester County School Board, whose rules denied trans students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Lawyers representing Grimm have argued that Title IX, the law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools, also extends to gender-based discrimination.
Oral arguments in the case were slated to begin March 28.
Last October, the court agreed to hear the case on two grounds related to Grimm’s case. The first hinged on Obama-era guidance that interpreted Title IX as explicitly protecting trans students. But that was essentially mooted after the Trump administration on Feb. 22 rescinded the Obama guidance.
But Grimm’s lawyers had hoped the Supreme Court would weigh the broader definition of Title IX, given the large body of scientific and medical research that has emerged since the law passed, in 1972, about gender dysphoria, and the difference between sex and gender.
Grimm’s case will now go back to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, which in April 2016 ruled in favor of Grimm based on the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX. Now that the Obama-era guidance has been revoked, the court will be asked to rule for a second time on Grimm’s case.
Grimm’s case, if heard by SCOTUS, could have had wide-ranging implications for transgender Americans. It was slated to be the first Supreme Court case to directly deal with transgender rights, and was seen as an important step toward equal protection under the law. A ruling in Grimm’s favor would have set a national precedent.
Last week, medical organizations, teachers associations, businesses (including tech giants like Apple and Yahoo), lawmakers, Obama-era federal officials, more than 100 transgender Americans, and dozens of transgender kids all submitted briefs in support of Grimm.
“The past weeks have shown that the country stands with trans young people,” said Chase Strangio, an attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT and AIDS Project who was handling Grimm’s case. “Even though the Supreme Court has today delayed resolution of Gavin’s case, the law still protects trans people under Title IX and the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. We will continue to fight for trans young people across the country.”