Gavin Grimm is the high school student who sued his Virginia school district based on the transgender use of bathrooms. The United States Supreme Court announced this week that, instead of ruling on the case, it will send it back to the Fourth Circuit. The SCT’s reasoning: the Fourth Circuit based its ruling on guidance which was issued by the Obama administration clarifying Title IX protections for transgender students.
On February 22, the Trump administration rescinded that guidance. The administration revoked federal guidelines specifying that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity. The Education and Justice Departments were notified that the administration is ordering schools to disregard memos issued relative to transgender student rights. The “Dear Colleague” letter, which is the method by which the executive branch sends out “memos”, does not offer any guidance but says that earlier guidance lacked extensive legal analysis, did not go through a public vetting process, sowed confusion and drew legal challenges.
The administration said that it wants to “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved” and that any guidance must include “due regard for the primary role of the State and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
So the Fourth Circuit is back in business on this transgender case, as well as other transgender student cases that are moving through the lower courts. The Seventh Circuit will hear a case wherein Ash Whitaker, a Wisconsin student, is requesting relief, on March 29th. Both Ohio and Pennsylvania courts have held that while the litigation is working its way through the courts, transgender students must allowed to use the facilities of their choice.
We will continue to watch these cases.