Federal Judge Dismisses Title IX Claims in Transgender Student’s Suit Over a Virginia School District’s Restroom Policy; Indicates He is Unlikely to Grant Student a Preliminary Injunction Barring Enforcement of District Policy

U.S. District Court Judge Robert G. Doumar said, during a hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction hearing, that it was “highly unlikely” he would grant the motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiff, Gavin Grimm, a transgender student, has brought suit against Gloucester County Public Schools (GCPS) alleging that the school is discriminating against him by denying him access to the boys restroom per a GCPS policy. Grimm filed the motion asking the judge to order GCPS to allow him to use the boys restrooms until a hearing and a decision on the merits of his claims.

“What happens here is a question of precedence,” Judge Doumar said from the bench, “I worry about precedence. If we cut out the (policy), does it mean anyone who genuinely believes they are of the opposite sex can use any restroom?” He asked if a ruling in Grimm’s favor would allow all transgender students in Gloucester County and the entire Eastern District of Virginia to begin using the restroom of their choice. He told Attorney Block of the ACLU who represents Grimm repeatedly during the hearing on the preliminary injunction that Attorney Block was fighting an “uphill battle” in the case.

The judge indicated that after he has issued a written opinion on the motion for a preliminary injunction, he will set a trial date.

If Judge Doumar rules in Grimm’s favor, it will be the first time a federal court has said that restricting a transgender student’s restroom use is discriminatory. Earlier this year, the U.S. District Court in Western Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit that a transgender male student filed against the University of Pittsburgh. The lawsuit was filed in 2011, and a judge said in April, 2015 that the university did not discriminate against the 25-year-old student when it prohibited him from using male facilities because he was medically a woman.

The issue of gender and restroom use is a current topic of interest among school districts. Contact Judy Shopp at js@mbm-law.net or 412.242.4400 for more information regarding this issue. To read more on this topic, click here.

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