Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. (U.S.C.A. 4th Circuit , 2017)

Discrimination

4th Circuit Court of Appeals ,

Discrimination

Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old transgender boy who attends a public high school in Virginia, sued the school board after it passed a resolution banning him and transgender students generally from using the restrooms that match their gender identity. At issue in the case is whether the school board’s policy is unlawful sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments. ADL joined an amicus brief filed by eight religious and civil rights groups. The record in the case and numerous amicus briefs filed in support of the school board are replete with moral or religious objections to Gavin using restrooms matching his gender identity. In response, the brief joined by ADL sets out long-standing U.S. Supreme Court Equal Protection Clause precedents prohibiting government from relying on such objections to justify treating some classes of people differently from others. Based on this precedent, it argues that using moral or religious disapproval to disregard Title IX or to justify barring Gavin from restrooms would violate the Equal Protection Clause. Furthermore, a court’s use of such disapproval would raise grave Establishment Clause concerns by codifying religious belief as official school-district policy, and thereby impermissibly imposing the burdens of objectors’ religious views on innocent third parties. This case was set to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, but, in March 2017, the Court issued an order declining to hear the case and sending it back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration in light of the recent decision by the Trump administration to rescind the Title IX guidance put in place by the Obama administration. That now-rescinded guidance served to protect transgender students’ rights by explaining the proper interpretation of federal anti-discrimination laws.