Clinic Applauds Equal Bathroom-Access Decision of Federal Appeals Court

Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic's October 2015 Amicus Brief in Case Argued that Title IX Prohibits all Forms of Sex Discrimination

New York, April 20, 2016—The Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic applauds the April 19 decision  by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals requiring equal bathroom access for a transgender student who was born female and wishes to use the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia  high school.

“The bottom line is that transgender students have a right to equal educational opportunity,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, Director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic and Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law. “The court correctly found that Title IX protects transgender students’ right to use the bathroom at school that is consistent with their gender identity, which is essential to all students’ ability to thrive.” 
The court’s decision came in the case of Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. Gavin Grimm, the 16-year old plaintiff in the case, challenged a policy adopted by the Gloucester, Virginia school board last December that forbade transgender students from using bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity. The policy mandated that use of boys and girls bathrooms in school district “be limited to the corresponding biological genders, and students with gender identity issues . . . be provided an alternative appropriate private facility.” 
The ruling that overturned this discriminatory policy echoed arguments set out in an amicus brief filed by the Clinic in October 2015. Specifically, the brief argued that Title IX prohibits all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender persons. 
Next, the District Court will rehear Mr. Grimm’s request to use the boys’ bathroom, using the Fourth Circuit’s favorable interpretation of Title IX. Notably, the court’s guidance extends to the four other states within the Fourth Circuit: Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Advocates are especially hopeful that this decision will help invalidate North Carolina’s recent anti-transgender legislation, which requires individuals to use restrooms that correspond with their “biological sex” in all government buildings, including public schools.
To read the brief, click here.
Click here to read the full decision.  
Columbia Law School’s Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic addresses cutting-edge issues in sexuality and gender law through litigation, legislation, public policy analysis, and other forms of advocacy.