February 20, 2019 at 3:09 pm EST | by James Wellemeyer
Va. school board holds hearing on trans student bathroom policy
Gavin Grimm in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board over its policy that prevented him from using the boys bathroom. The same school board on Feb. 19, 2019, held a public hearing that focused on bathroom policies for transgender students. (Photo by Scout Turankjian; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The Gloucester County School Board on Tuesday held a public hearing about the district’s bathroom policy for transgender students.

The resolution in review would allow trans students to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity if the student provides medical documentation from a licensed healthcare professional who specializes in trans patients; the student has “asserted” their gender identity for at least six months and the student has undergone treatment recommended by their healthcare provider for at least six months.

The Gloucester County School District is the same district that prevented Gavin Grimm, a trans student, from using the boys’ bathroom. The school board argued that Grimm’s so-called “biological gender” was female and, therefore, he should not use the boys’ bathroom.

In July 2015, Grimm worked with the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the school board. The ACLU claimed the anti-trans policy violated Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

On May 22, 2018, a federal court ruled in Grimm’s favor, maintaining that Title IX and the equal protection clause of the Constitution do protect transgender students.

Tuesday’s hearing itself was split over the policy, according to WTKR, a Richmond television station. Some in opposition to the policy received standing ovations from the crowd.

Grimm and other trans students attended the hearing and spoke. “Like it or not, I as a transgender man deserve to be part of society in full. I deserve the same access to facilities as my peers. I deserve respect and dignity. So does every trans kid in Gloucester County and beyond,” Grimm said.

An adoption of the policy would put an end to Grimm’s legal battle and allow trans students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

“If this policy had been in place when I was a sophomore at Gloucester High School, I would have been able to continue using the same restrooms as other boys without being singled out and isolated from my classmates and friends,” Grimm told the Washington Blade in a statement. “I have fought this legal battle for the past four years because I want to make sure that other transgender students do not have to go through the same pain and humiliation that I did. This policy is far from perfect, but would represent an important first step for Gloucester. If approved, it would also send the message to school districts across the Commonwealth and the country that discrimination is unacceptable, and every student must be respected and supported.”

Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT and HIV Project, added the Grimm case “will continue to move forward.”

“We are confident that Gavin will ultimately prevail,” Block told the Blade. “The federal courts are there to protect individuals from discrimination when politicians refuse to do so.”

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