Federal Court Backs Transgender Student in Case Against School District

The ruling reverses lower court findings and contradicts a new law in North Carolina.

A federal court ruled in favor of a transgender student who found his Virginia school district’s bathroom policy discriminatory.

The U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision marks the first time a federal court acknowledged that Title IX protects the right of transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, according to the New York Times.

Gavin Grimm, who identifies as a boy, was a sophomore at Gloucester High School in Virginia when the local school board implemented a policy forcing transgender students to use “an alternative private facility,” banning him from the boys’ bathroom.

RELATED: Univ. of Pitt. Settles Lawsuit with Transgender Student

Grimm took legal action last June with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Virginia in hopes of being allowed to use the boys’ bathroom in his junior year. Grimm’s argument that the school district violated Title IX with their bathroom policy was then dismissed by a U.S. District Judge in September, although the judge allowed the case to continue.

This week’s ruling reverses the lower court’s findings and is more in line with the Department of Education’s regulation that schools “must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”

The ruling means the states covered in the Fourth Circuit (Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia and South Carolina) must now follow the department’s regulation on transgender rights.

Last month, North Carolina passed a controversial law that requires students to use bathrooms that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificate. State Governor Pat McCrory says he will evaluate the effect of the federal court’s recent ruling on that law.

The federal government could take the extreme measure of pulling billions of dollars in funding from North Carolina if it finds the state isn’t complying with national laws.

Read Next: S. Dakota Gov. Vetoes Transgender Student Bathroom Bill

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