SCOTUS Declines To Hear Challenge To Trans Bathroom Rights

The Supreme Court building in Washington DC

The Supreme Court building in Washington DC

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by a Virginia school board that hoped to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban.

That decision leaves in place lower court rulings that found the policy unconstitutional.

From the New York Times:

An appeals court had ruled that the policy violated the Constitution and a federal law by prohibiting the student, Gavin Grimm, from using the same bathrooms as other boys. The school said Mr. Grimm could use a private bathroom.

The Supreme Court had agreed to hear an earlier appeal in the case but dismissed it in 2017 after the Trump administration changed the federal government’s position on transgender rights. The Biden administration has since adopted policies protecting transgender students.

What this means: there is now strong precedent that schools in the 4th Circuit (Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia) cannot prohibit students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

Last year, the Supreme Court for the first time ruled in favor of transgender rights, saying that a federal employment discrimination law applied to LGBTQ workers.

SCOTUS Declines To Review Transgender High School Policy

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a court ruling regarding public school policies allowing transgender students to use bathroom facilities that align with their gender identity.

The case was brought by Oregon parents who objected to a trans student being allowed to use the boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms in 2017.

From The Hill:

By declining to hear the case, the justices preserved a federal appeals court’s decision to permit transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms associated with their gender identity instead of their sex assigned at birth.

Parents brought the case against the Dallas School District in Oregon in 2017 after a transgender student was permitted to use the boys’ bathrooms and locker room at the high school.

The parents alleged that the district’s permission for transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms aligned with their gender identity violated the privacy and constitutional rights of other students.

A lower court initially refused to strike down the school district’s policy, prompting the parents to appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court ruling.

News Round-Up: August 26, 2020

Snoopy doing his best turned-in Fosse leg

Some news items you might have missed:

National Dog Day: Celebrating all of the furry family members that make our lives liveable. That’s the amazing Snoopy above, and yes, he is giving you turned-in Fosse leg 🙂

NY Times: Just over two months before Election Day, Donald Trump is trailing in almost every poll to former Vice President Joe Biden, whom activists credit with pushing President Obama to support gay marriage. And Trump’s advisers are suddenly talking about LGBTQ people as they scramble to find new voter support.

Washington Blade: A federal appeals court on Wednesday once again ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender man who challenged his Virginia school district’s bathroom policy.

The Advocate: Well-known homophobe and pool boy/personal trainer aficionado Jerry Falwell Jr. will receive a $10.5 million severance package from Liberty University as he heads out the door amid controversy.

CNN: A sudden change in federal guidelines on coronavirus testing came this week as a result of pressure from the upper ranks of the Trump administration, a federal health official tells CNN – “It’s coming from the top down.” The new guidelines raise the bar on who should get tested, advising that some people without symptoms probably don’t need it — even if they’ve been in close contact with an infected person.

New Music: Rising pop artist MkX has released his latest single “Fall” – an escapist pop bop that wrestles with the feeling of falling in love.

“I wrote “Fall” about the three stages of falling for someone,” says MkX. “The first stage is apprehension and wanting to protect yourself from getting hurt. The second stage is realization and coming to terms with the fact that you’re starting to fall in love. The third stage is owning it and switching roles by making that person fall for you. Each chorus has the same melody, but slightly different lyrics that reflect each of these stages.”

MkX is a new artist for me but I definitely like mixing up synth-pop and R&B on a very modern, ‘now’ soundscape.

School Board Has Filed Appeal After Losing Gavin Grimm ‘Bathroom’ Case

Last month, Gavin Grimm, a transgender man who graduated from Gloucester High School in Virginia two years ago, won his long legal battle with his former high school over the right for trans students to use the public bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

But this week, the Gloucester County School Board decided to appeal the federal court ruling in Grimm’s favor.

And so, Gavin Grimm will have to fight his trans ‘bathroom case’ yet again.

Yes, he’s graduated and moved on, but the pro-trans ruling is so important to trans people that you can bet the 20-year-old activist will continue the good fight.

His case dates all the way back to 2014, when he began to transition in his sophomore year of high school.

Grimm began using a men’s restroom and told school administrators what was going on in his life.

But in December of that year, the school board instituted a policy that prohibited Grimm from using the boys’ room.

Grimm filed his initial law suit in 2015 with the aid of the ACLU. Since that time, he has been locked in this never-ending legal.

He finally took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago, but the high court sent the case back to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals after the Trump administration reversed Obama-era protections for transgender students in American public schools under Title IX.

Trans Student Finally Wins His “Bathroom Rights” Court Case

Gavin Grimm

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled in favor of transgender student Gavin Grimm, reaffirming that both the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protect transgender students from discrimination.

In 2014, the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia voted 6-1 in favor of a discriminatory bathroom policy that would force transgender students to use a single-stall restroom. Grimm had previously been allowed to use the boy’s restroom.

In 2015, Grimm sued the Gloucester County, Virginia school board.

Initially, Grimm won his case but there were multiple appeals by the school board.

In 2017, the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, but the justices refused to hear the case. Instead, they vacated Grimm’s courtroom victory and sent it back to the lower courts.

Today, U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ordered the school board to settle with Grimm, who has since graduated.

Grimm issued this statement:

“I feel an incredible sense of relief. 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.”

Today’s ruling also requires the school district to update Grimm’s transcripts to reflect his gender.

The Human Rights Campaign responded as well.

“Every student should feel safe at school, regardless of gender identity. Transgender students are covered by Title IX and the United States Constitution and are entitled to the same rights and protections as every other student,” said Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel.

“With the Trump-Pence administration’s barrage of attacks on LGBTQ people in this country, including against students, we are pleased that yet another federal court decision has reaffirmed legal rights and dignity of transgender people,” continued Oakley. “Congratulations to Gavin Grimm and the American Civil Liberties Union on this milestone victory.”

Many federal courts, including the court today, have affirmed that Title IX and other federal nondiscrimination laws prohibit discrimination against transgender people, including with respect to restroom access.

(source: HRC)

SCOTUS Denies Challenge To Trans-Inclusive Bathroom Policy

In a win for transgender students, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review Doe v. Boyertown School District which leaves in place a policy of allowing trans students to use the bathroom facilities that align with their gender identity.
Aidan DeStefano (screen capture)

In a win for transgender students, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review Doe v. Boyertown School District which leaves in place a policy of allowing trans students to use the bathroom facilities that align with their gender identity.

The policy has been in effect since 2016. The school district also provides private restrooms with lockers for any student, trans or otherwise, who may feel uncomfortable with the arrangement.

In March 2017, a group of students using the pseudonym ‘Joel Doe’ sued the Boyertown Area School District for allowing male trans students to use their preferred bathrooms. Doe argued the policy was a violation of their privacy.

The ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania represented a transgender student, Aidan DeStefano, and the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders and organizations which includes the Boyertown Gay-Straight Alliance.

In 2017, The Today Show profiled DeStefano who had begun to transition in 2015.

The plaintiffs were represented by the virulently anti-LGBTQ law organization Alliance Defending Freedom, which has taken up similar cases across the country.

Having lost their original court case, the plaintiffs took their fight to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals last year, where they lost again.

In fact, the three judge panel announced its unanimous decision just 15 minutes after hearing arguments. According to The Morning Call, decisions from the 3rd Circuit usually take weeks or months to be handed down.

Today’s announcement by SCOTUS means the ruling from the 3rd Circuit stands.

To date, multiple courts have ruled that transgender students have the right under Title IX and the 14th Amendment to sue the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

In a statement released after today’s decision, Michael Levin, counsel for the school district, said, “The Boyertown Area School District provides private bathrooms and locker rooms to all students who do not feel comfortable sharing such (spaces) with others, transgender or cisgender.”

“The school district’s approach to offer separate and private bathrooms, locker rooms and private spaces to students who desire greater privacy is the common-sense approach that the Plaintiffs claim that they want,” added Levin.

DC Restaurant Fined For Barring Trans Patron From Restroom

Charlotte Clymer (Photo courtesy of Charlotte Clymer

During a visit last summer to Cuba Libre, a popular Washington DC bar and restaurant, Charlotte Clymer was stopped as she attempted to use the women restroom by an employee.

The employee demanded to see the transgender woman’s ID claiming the restaurant ‘required’ her to show legal identification to prove she was female.

Clymer, who was at the venue celebrating a friend’s bachelorette party, dismissed the employee and entered the ladies room. According to the Washington Blade, the employee didn’t ask anyone else for identification.

After entering a stall to do her business, Clymer heard the man walk into the bathroom in an attempt to search for her.

“I go into a stall to do my business and I hear him walk in and search for me in this busy restroom full of women,” Clymer shared on her Facebook. “He is doing everything but opening the stall doors. I ignore him, and after a few minutes, he leaves. I do my business, wash my hands, and walk out.”

“On the other side of the door are the attendant and the manager, who says it’s D.C. law that you must have ‘female’ on your ID to use the women’s restroom,” added Clymer. “I tell him he’s wrong and there’s no chance I’m showing him my ID.”

This is where it’s important to note that Clymer works with the Human Rights Campaign, and if anyone knows the law on transgender protections, it’s Clymer.

In fact, she pulled up the DC Human Rights Act on her phone and showed the manager the ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression in regard to housing, employment and (ahem) public accommodations.

After the manager, who Clymer described as “condescending and dismissive,” threatened to call the police, she was eventually ejected from the restaurant.

Standing outside the restaurant, an angry Clymer called the police herself. According to the Washington Post, the officers showed up and reassured her the law was on her side.

Eventually, Clymer filed a complaint with the Office of Human Rights, and the DC Attorney General got involved as well.

As a result of her complaint, the owner of Cuba Libre has apologized and been ordered to pay a $7,000 fine for violating the Human Rights Act. Additionally, the settlement with the Attorney General calls for the restaurant to “institute policies on civil rights compliance and training.”

Plus, signage is now required in the establishment that states the local ordinance that “all individuals are allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity or expression.”

For her part, Clymer Clymer told the Washington Blade that she’s pleased with the outcome.

“I am quite grateful for the work of Attorney General Racine and his staff to ensure that discrimination has no place in D.C., and I am thankful that Cuba Libre and CEO Barry Gutin have worked in good faith since the fall to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” Clymer said.

“All parties worked together to make sure a terrible night was turned into a great teaching moment, which was built on the history of advocacy by trans folks in D.C., particularly trans women of color.”

Asst Principal Bullies Trans Student In Bathroom “If You Can’t Use This Urinal, You Shouldn’t Be In Here”

(image via Depositphotos)

An assistant principal at a West Virginia high school has been suspended after a complaint was filed alleging he had bullied a transgender male student in a bathroom.

Late last month, before boarding a bus for an after-school marching band trip, 15-year-old Michael Critchfield went to the boys bathroom and asked if anyone was present before entering a stall. As a trans boy, he had made a habit of checking to avoid potential confrontations.

Critchfield and his parents have been open with the school administration, since he began attending as a freshman last year, that he is transgender.

According to Critchfield, Liberty High School assistant principal Lee Livengood entered the bathroom and began harassing the student from outside the stall.

Critchfield says Livengood yelled, “Why are you in here? You shouldn’t be in here.”

Livengood reportedly misgendered Critchfield continually and ordered him to “come out here and use the urinal” to prove he was a boy.

“If you can’t use this urinal, then you shouldn’t be in here,” Livengood yelled, according to Critchfield. “What if a student said you were checking them out in here?”

Critchfield later told the ACLU of West Virginia he felt “degraded and discriminated against.”

According to The Huffington Post, other students could hear the screaming coming from the bathroom and alerted a parent who was acting as a chaperone that day.

The chaperone confronted the assistant principal outside the bathroom where Livengood allegedly admitted in front of Critchfield, “Not going to lie. You freak me out.”

When Caroline Critchfield picked up her son later that day, she found Michael terrified and traumatized.

The mother addressed the issue with Liberty High School administrators the next day where she was told Livengood would not have any further contact with her son and that an investigation would be launched into the matter.

But after several weeks, no update was forthcoming from the administration.

Additionally, Livengood would reportedly station himself in the cafeteria during Michael’s lunch period, which he hadn’t done before.

The family reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia for help regarding the incident.

‘It shocks the conscience that they’ve apparently taken no steps to discipline Mr. Livengood on this,’ ACLU-WV Executive Director Joseph Cohen told The Daily Beast.

After sending a letter to the superintendent of Harrison County Schools, Dr. Mark A. Manchin, requesting a meeting about the altercation, neither the Critchfields nor the ACLU received a response.

That is, until the media began reporting on the incident.

On Tuesday this week, Manchin told local media that Livengood would be suspended without pay until 2019.

“I was able to confirm the interaction with Mr. Livengood and that indeed he acted inappropriately,” Manchin told West Virginia MetroNews. “We need to address it and we will address it.”

With the Christmas holiday next week, that suspension ‘without pay until 2019′ amounts for four days.

“While we are heartened to hear the administration admit to wrongdoing, a four day paid suspension of an employee is not sufficient,” Cohen said in a public statement. “The Harrison County School District needs to make significant changes to its culture.”

Cohen’s statement continued, “We look forward to meeting with Mr. Manchin and developing a real plan to ensure that every student is safe.”

Cohen also underscored how the issue of harassment of transgender teens is literally a life or death issue as the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study earlier this year indicating 51 percent of trans male adolescents had attempted suicide.