Appeals Court Rules Va. School District ‘Discriminated’ by Not Allowing Girl to Use Boys’ Restroom

Photo Credit: ACLU

RICHMOND, Va. — A 2-1 panel with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has again ruled that a Virginia school district discriminated against a female student who identifies as male by declining to allow her to use the boys’ restroom.

“[W]e hold that the board’s restroom policy constitutes sex-based discrimination and, independently, that transgender persons constitute a quasi-suspect class,” wrote Judge Henry Floyd, appointed to the bench by then-President Barack Obama.

He stated that “[n]o one questions that students have a privacy interest in their body when they go to the bathroom,” but the school district “ignores the reality of how a transgender child uses the bathroom: ‘by entering a stall and closing the door.'” Further, those with gender identity issues do not present a “peeping tom” threat as they will “mind[] their business like any other student.”

“Put another way, the record demonstrates that bodily privacy of cisgender boys using the boys restrooms did not increase when Grimm was banned from those restrooms,” Floyd said. “Therefore, the board’s policy was not substantially related to its purported goal.”

He also opined in his ruling that “[j]ust like being cisgender, being transgender is natural and is not a choice.”

Floyd asserted that transgenderism is “not a psychiatric condition,” but simultaneously stated that those who struggle with their gender “are up to three times more likely to report or be diagnosed with a mental health disorder as the general population” and noted that “[g]ender dysphoria is defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”

Floyd was joined in his opinion by Judge James Wynn, Jr., also an Obama nominee. Judge Paul Niemeyer, nominated by then-President George H.W. Bush, dissented.

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As previously reported, six years ago, while a student at Gloucester High School, a biological female who goes by the name Gavin Grimm was directed to use the nurse’s restroom after she began identifying as a boy, and did so for a time. However, she soon decided that she would rather use the boys’ restroom.

“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 told reporters in 2014. “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.”

She therefore spoke to 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. 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.

After a district court judge ruled in favor of the school district and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Grimm, the matter was fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which initially agreed to hear the case.

However, after the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era restroom directives in February 2017, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the Fourth Circuit and also vacated the appeals court’s ruling, advising the panel to revisit the decision.

The Fourth Circuit then remanded the matter back to the district courts to determine whether the legal battle was moot since Grimm had graduated from high school.

In 2018, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen, appointed to the bench by then-President Barack Obama, declined to declare the complaint moot and instead ruled that the district engaged in “sex stereotyping.”

“The policy classified … Grimm differently on the basis of [her] transgender status and, accordingly, subjected [her] to sex stereotyping. The Equal Protection Clause protects Mr. Grimm from impermissible sex stereotypes—just as Title IX does, for the reasons articulated previously—and the court need only find that the board’s policy demonstrated sex stereotyping under the Equal Protection Clause,” she wrote.

The decision was appealed, and on Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals again ruled in favor of the former student. It disagreed that a private single-user restroom was a sufficient solution.

“[T]hat is like saying that racially segregated bathrooms treated everyone equally, because everyone was prohibited from using the bathroom of a different race,” Floyd wrote. “No one would suppose that also providing a ‘race neutral’ bathroom option would have solved the deeply stigmatizing and discriminatory nature of racial segregation; so too here.”

However, Judge Paul Niemeyer dissented, writing that the majority opinion essentially ignores any reasoning for separating male and female facilities in the first place.

“[The ruling] overlooks altogether and therefore does not address the reasons for such separation,” he stated. “Rather, it blithely orders that the high school allow both transgender males and biological males to use the same restrooms, thus abolishing any separation of restrooms on the basis of biological sex.”

Niemeyer said that while he understands Grimm’s circumstances, the job of the judiciary is to interpret the law, and “the law, both statutory and constitutional, prohibits discrimination only with respect to those who are similarly situated.”

“Here, Grimm was born a biological female and identifies as a male, and therefore his circumstances are different from the  circumstances of students who were born as biological males. For purposes of restroom usage, he was not similarly situated to students who were born as biological males,” he stated.

“Accordingly, I would conclude that Grimm’s complaint failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted.”

Read the ruling and dissent in full here.

Photo Credit: Kaz/Pixabay

As previously reported, while some view transgenderism as a medical condition, Christians believe the matter is also, at its root, a spiritual issue — one that stems from the same predicament all men everywhere face without Christ.

The Bible teaches that all are born with the Adamic sin nature, having various inherent feelings and inclinations that are contrary to the law of God, and being utterly incapable of changing by themselves.

It is why Jesus came: to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Scripture outlines that Jesus came to be the propitiation for men’s sins (1 John 2:21 John 4:10), a doctrine in Christianity known as substitutionary atonement, and to save men from the wrath of God for their violations against His law (Romans 4:25Romans 5:9Romans 5:16), a doctrine known as justification.

The Bible also teaches about regeneration, as in addition to sparing guilty men from eternal punishment, Christ sent his Holy Spirit to make those who would repent and believe the gospel new creatures in the here and now, with new desires and an ability to do what is pleasing in the sight of God by His indwelling and empowerment (Ezekiel 11:192 Corinthians 5:17Titus 3:5).

Jesus said that men must be born again, and have their very nature transformed by the Spirit from being in Adam to being in Christ, or they cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-8).

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