WASHINGTON — Nearly 9,000 people added their names to a legal brief this past week in support of a Virginia school board’s appeal of a ruling requiring that it allow a female student who identifies as male to use the boys’ restroom.
8,914 students, parents and other residents from across the country included their name in the friend of the court brief filed by the religious liberties organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on Wednesday. Over 40 state family policy organizations, such as the Family Policy Institute of Washington, North Carolina Values, and the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation, were a part of the brief as well.
“Placing students in circumstances where their privacy is compromised and they are at risk of bodily exposure in the vicinity of members of the opposite sex is not only demeaning and humiliating, but also denies individuals’ personal dignity,” it reads.
“Courts have thus refused to require schools to open sex-specific locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to all students because permanent emotional impairment could result from the deprivation of students’ bodily-privacy rights,” the legal filing continues. “Instead, they have allowed schools to craft common sense solutions that respect every student’s privacy.”
Click here to read the brief and view the list of supporters in full.
As previously reported, Gavin Grimm, now 17, told reporters in December 2014 that she began using the boys’ restroom after obtaining permission from the school principal when she expressed disapproval over being forced to use the nurse restroom.
“I’m not a girl. I’m not using the girl’s restroom,” Grimm stated. “So I said, ‘Hey, where can I use the restroom?’ … And so they said, ‘Use the nurse’s room,’ and at the time I was fine with that, because I was still afraid—I didn’t know how my peers would react. So, I didn’t want to push the envelope any further than I had to all at once.”
But she said that the option soon became a problem.
“The nurse’s office is at least a three minute walk from the class I have closest to it. It took a substantial amount of time out of my class time, and it was embarrassing,” Grimm said. “When you’re gone for 15 minutes at a time to use the bathroom, what are high schoolers gonna think? It’s humiliating and it’s alienating.”
The student therefore asked the principal about the matter, who suggested that Grimm go ahead and use the men’s restroom since she identifies as a boy. But some of the parents of the male students soon learned about the allowance, and the issue turned up before the school board.
Due to the concerns of parents, the board voted to approve a policy requiring students to utilize the restroom that correlates with their biological gender, or to use a private bathroom.
But in response, Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board with the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in an effort to overturn the policy.
“By excluding Gavin—a transgender boy—from the boys restrooms because the school board does not deem him to be ‘biologically’ male, the school board, under color of state law, has treated and continues to treat Gavin differently from similarly situated students based on his gender,” the suit asserted.
Last September, District Court Judge Robert Doumar, appointed to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan, ruled against Grimm, disagreeing with the ACLU that the board had violated Title IX with its restroom policy.
“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and not on the basis of other concepts such as gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” Doumar wrote.
The ACLU appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled 2-1 in favor of Grimm in April by pointing to the Obama administration’s recent interpretations of the federal statute.
It then sent the case back to Doumar, who was instructed to rule in light of how the U.S. Department of Education views the federal statute. Doumar consequently ordered the board to allow Grimm to use the boys’ restroom.
The the Gloucester County School Board then appealed the order to the U.S. Supreme Court, asserting that it will cause “irreparable harm to the board, to the school system and to the legitimate privacy expectations of the district’s schoolchildren and parents alike.”
In August, the court granted the emergency injunction, blocking Grimm from using the boys’ restroom—at least for now as it decides whether or not to accept the board’s appeal.
“These courts have recognized that the constitutional right of bodily privacy is defined by reasonable expectations, not the bohemian leanings of a few, and that laws aimed at eliminating sex discrimination were designed to create equal opportunities for women and men, not to force new privacy mores on the American public,” Wednesday’s brief reads.
“Certainly, when the right to bodily privacy protects even an imprisoned felon from unnecessary exposure to the opposite sex, then it surely protects the adolescent girl from the same risk of exposure to students who are indisputably biologically and physically a male,” it says.
As previously reported, on the same day, 19 state attorneys general also filed a friend of the court brief supporting the Gloucester County School Board.
The brief, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, was joined by Attorneys General Luther Strange of Alabama; Mark Brnovich of Arizona; Mike Dewine of Ohio; Ken Paxton of Texas; Jeff Landry of Louisiana; Brad Schimel of Wisconsin; Timothy Fox of Montana and Jim Hood of Mississippi, among others.