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Court’s Decision to Side With District on Transgender Bathroom Use Calls for Definitive Ruling

Supreme Court’s Decision to Side with Virginia District on Transgender Bathroom Use Calls for Definitive Ruling

For many students, going back-to-school can be a dreaded event as summer vacation comes to a close and the early morning routines kick back in. For Gavin Grimm, going back-to-school has a special cause for anxiety after being the subject of highly debated supreme court ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a ruling for the first time yesterday on the controversial guidance from the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use the facilities of their preferred gender, not biological one.

On Wednesday, the highest of U.S. courts ruled that the Gloucester county school board in Virginia can continue to deny Gavin Grimm from using the restroom that he prefers. Grimm, born a female, identifies and lives as a male.

Specifically, “[t]he justices blocked a federal appeals court ruling against the Gloucester County School Board while they consider whether to hear the case. If they do, it would mark the high court's first foray into the issue of transgender rights,” said USA Today.

And many hope that they decide to do so in hopes of definitive clarification of the Obama administration’s guidance, which doesn’t carry the weight of law but does carry the threat of federal funding loss.

Since the Obama administration delivered the guidance in May, states and districts have opted to handle the matter in many different ways; though states have the option to largely dictate how schools operate within their borders, many agree that a universal set of standards is desirable and that such a mismatch of policy hurts the students we are looking to protect.

The Gloucester County School Board is not the only school board that has denied transgender students from using preferred facilities since the guidance directed against it.

In Utah, the state’s largest school board considered drafting a back-up budget plan to operate under if it lost its federal funding for defying the directive. The Alpine School District Board failed to pass such a measure, but even such a consideration stands testament as to just how passionate the debate has become.

In other parts of the country, entire states have opted to take matters into their own hands. In Kansas, for example, the state’s school board of education ruled in direct defiance of the directive to let districts and schools decide whether or not to allow transgender bathroom use. And most us are familiar with North Carolina’s decision to legislate against transgender bathroom use, a move that prompted the guidance in the first place.

For students like Gavin Grimm, who has now become the face of what will likely be a long legal process, a definitive decision from the Supreme Court can’t come soon enough.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

8/4/2016

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