Supreme Court takes up case of bathroom rules for transgender students

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will take up the case in Virginia where a school board is preventing a transgender teenager from using the boys’ bathroom at his high school.

The U.S. Supreme Court is shown as the court meets to issue decisions May 23, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court is shown as the court meets to issue decisions May 23, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The justices said Friday they will hear the appeal from the Gloucester County school board sometime next year.  The case marks the first time the Supreme Court has considered the controversial issue playing out across the country, most notably in North Carolina — where the Justice Department has filed a civil rights suit against the state’s controversial “bathroom law.”

A lower court had ruled in favor of student Gavin Grimm and ordered the school board to accommodate him, but the justices in August put that order on hold while they considered whether to hear the appeal.

The high court’s order means that Grimm will not be able to use the boys’ bathroom in the meantime unless the Supreme Court rules in his favor.

“I never thought that my restroom use would ever turn into any kind of national debate. The only thing I ever asked for was the right to be treated like everyone else,” Grimm said in a statement from the ACLU. “While I’m disappointed that I will have to spend my final school year being singled out and treated differently from every other guy, I will do everything I can to make sure that other transgender students don’t have to go through the same experience.”

Gloucester High School initially allowed Grimm, a 17-year-old high school senior, to the use of the boys’ bathroom, but reversed course after members of the community expressed concern. Although his birth certificate recorded him as female, Grimm told the school in 2014 he transitioned to being male and legally changed his name.

The Supreme Court justices will decide if the lower court was correct to defer to the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX to include discrimination based on gender identity.

After the news broke, supporters took to social media with the hashtag #StandWithGavin to back the 17-year-old student and the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case.

The Associated Press and PIX11’s Paige Leskin contributed to this report.