Breakthrough: Federal Court Affirms Rights of Transgender Teenager

April 19, 2016 • 2:46 pm

Fourth Circuit ruling calls the legality of North Carolina’s HB 2 into further question

WASHINGTON – The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a major ruling today, siding with Virginia transgender teenager Gavin Grimm and declaring that his local school board’s move to ban him from using the public restroom that matches his gender identity violates Title IX regulations. The ruling is a significant and hard-fought victory for Grimm but also will have major implications in North Carolina – where HB 2 similarly bars transgender people from using public restrooms.

The ruling noted: “At the heart of this appeal is whether Title IX requires schools to provide transgender students access to restrooms congruent with their gender identity,” and went on to note that denying Grimm access to the restroom – or forcing him to use a single-stall facility, “is tantamount to humiliation and a continuing mark of difference among his fellow students.”

In North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory’s relentless defense of HB 2 could cost the state around $4.5 billion in federal funding exactly because it contradicts the Title IX protections cited by the Fourth Circuit today – casting even more legal scrutiny onto the discriminatory and anti-transgender law. The ACLU, Lambda Legal and Equality North Carolina are challenging the law in court.

“The Fourth Circuit ruling affirms the obvious – that a transgender boy is a boy, and he belongs in the boy’s room with all the other boys. We congratulate Gavin for the bravery he’s shown in this fight, and thank him and the ACLU of Virginia for bringing this challenge,” said Matt McTighe, Freedom for All Americans executive director. “This ruling should serve as a warning to Governor McCrory and North Carolina’s legislative leaders, who continue to flout federal regulations in favor of advancing discrimination and spreading harmful lies about what it means to be transgender. They’ve already seen that there are severe economic costs to laws like HB 2, and they’re now on notice that there could be very real federal consequences as well.”

Just yesterday, lawmakers in Tennessee tabled a similarly discriminatory bill because of concerns – amplified by the state’s attorney general and governor – that it could imperil the state’s federal education funding.

The Fourth Circuit covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Some lawmakers in South Carolina are considering anti-transgender legislation, despite signals from Governor Nikki Haley that she does not want to see such a bill hit her desk.

“Today’s action should send yet another clear message to any lawmaker considering anti-transgender bills that there could be far-reaching repercussions to legislative schemes engineered for no other reason than harming transgender people,” added McTighe. “That’s why we must continue to fight discriminatory bills in every single state and lay a foundation for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure every is treated fairly and equally under the law.”

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.



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