Supreme Court Returns Transgender Bathroom Case to Fourth Circuit

by Alexandra DeSanctis

This morning, the Supreme Court issued 31 pages of orders and opinions. Among them, the Court granted certiorari in the Gloucester County School Board v. G. G. case, which was last ruled on by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Rather than agreeing to consider the substance of the case — which would’ve allowed the Court to set precedent on transgender bathroom policy — the Court vacated and remanded the Fourth Circuit’s decision in light of the Trump administration’s new guidance on the subject.

The original case was brought against the Gloucester County school board by Gavin Grimm, a public-school student and transgender boy who wants to be permitted to use the boys’ restroom at school. The school board has a policy stating that all students must use the restroom that comports with their biological sex rather than their gender identity.

The Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of Grimm on the basis of Obama-administration guidance, which directed all school districts across the entire country to allow each student to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity rather than their biological sex. The “dear colleague” letter released by Obama’s Departments of Justice and Education attempted to redefine Title IX’s sex-discrimination protections, arguing that “sex” actually meant “gender identity.”

Legally speaking, though, things have changed since then. The Trump administration’s new guidance has reversed the Obama-era overreach, returning the question of bathroom policy to local authorities, thereby permitting states, school boards, and local communities to determine the best practice for their schools. Because the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX was the only grounds for the previous decision in favor of Grimm, the Supreme Court returned the case to the Fourth Circuit to be reconsidered in the context of the newly released federal guidance.

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