June 11, 2015 at 6:58 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Va. school board sued over restroom policy

Gavin Grimm, gay news, Washington Blade

Gavin Grimm (Photo courtesy of Gavin Grimm)

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against a Virginia school district over its controversial policy that requires students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their “biological gender.”

The ACLU and the ACLU of Virginia brought the case against the Gloucester County School Board on behalf of Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy who has been required to use a unisex restroom in the nurse’s office since the policy took effect in December.

The lawsuit claims the policy violates both the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Title IX that prohibits schools that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex. It also states that Grimm is “currently the only student in his school who must use separate private restrooms.”

“The distinction stigmatizes Gavin and marks him as different from the other students; it isolates Gavin from his peers and it exposes him to serious psychological harm,” reads the lawsuit. “To avoid the stigma of having to use separate restrooms, Gavin has tried to avoid using any restroom during the school day.”

Grimm and his mother, who is also named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, are seeking “preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring the school board to allow Gavin to use the boys’ restrooms at school.” They are also seeking unspecified damages.

“I just want to use the restroom in peace,” said Grimm in an ACLU press release. “Since the school board passed this policy I feel singled out and humiliated every time I need to use the restroom.”

The ACLU and the ACLU of Virginia alleged in a complaint it filed with the Educational Opportunities Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in December that the school board’s policy violates Title IX. Kim Hensley, the only member of the Gloucester County School Board who voted against the policy, told the Washington Blade late last year she feels it could potentially jeopardize the district’s federal funding.

“Gloucester County Public Schools can protect the privacy rights of all students and still comply with Title IX by retrofitting bathrooms to make sure that there are only stalls in the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms,” she said. “This would be a fast and cost effective way to address community concerns.

Gloucester County School Board Chair Randy Burak on Thursday did not immediately return the Blade’s request for comment on the ACLU lawsuit.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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