A satisfying step forward towards equal rights happened in Virginia in the case of Gavin Grimm. His high school was refusing him access to the boys washroom and instructed him to use the unisex washroom exclusively. The fallout from the school’s actions has pushed this teen into the spotlight of recent trans rights activism. Transgender rights have really been in the spotlight for the last few years. One of the largest controversies, strangely enough, is the argument about bathroom access.
The Case of Gavin Grimm
Grimm’s fight began in 2014 as a sophomore at Gloucester High School. After the school prohibited his bathroom use, The American Civil Liberties Union filed a civil rights lawsuit against the school on behalf of Grimm. On May 22, 2018, the US courts affirmed the teen’s case by denying the school board’s motion to dismiss the case. The court also ruled that the parties must schedule a settlement conference within 30 days.
“I feel an incredible sense of relief,” Grimm, 19, said in a statement. “After fighting this policy since I was 15 years old, I finally have a court decision saying that what the Gloucester County School Board did to me was wrong and it was against the law. I was determined not to give up because I didn’t want any other student to have to suffer the same experience that I had to go through.”
U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen wrote that the board’s policy fails to acknowledge there are individuals who possess both male and female characteristics. “As Mr. Grimm contends, attempting to draw lines based on physiological and anatomical characteristics proves unmanageable: how would the Board’s policy apply to individuals who have had genital surgery, individuals whose genitals were injured in an accident, or those with intersex traits who have genital characteristics that are neither typically male nor female?”
Wright Allen is a former prosecutor and federal public defender who previously overturned Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban and was nominated to the bench by former President Barack Obama. Wright Allen wrote that there was “no doubt” that transgender individuals had historically been subjected to discrimination, noting the high rates of violence and discrimination against members of the transgender community. She said that the board’s policy was a sex-based classification because it relied on sex-based stereotypes. “The Policy classified Mr. Grimm differently on the basis of his transgender status and, accordingly, subjected him to sex stereotyping.”
Joshua Block, an ACLU senior staff attorney, said the district court’s ruling “vindicates” Grimm and other transgender students who have felt stigmatized by their schools’ bathroom policies. “These sorts of discriminatory policies do nothing to protect privacy and only serve to harm and humiliate transgender students,” Block said in a statement.
Don’t Let Fear Stand in the Way of Equality
Thankfully for people like Gavin Grimm, the world is slowly starting to change. We are taking tiny little steps towards gender equality. The battle has been slow and mostly uphill though because people tend to fear what they don’t really understand. It’s important that we take time to educate ourselves about equal rights and the struggles of others. The more we understand, the more we can be part of the solution instead of the problem. Share this article today and spark some conversation today.
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