WASHINTON (Reuters) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a major transgender rights case, leaving in place a lower court’s ruling that a Virginia public school board acted unlawfully in preventing a transgender student from using a bathroom at his high school that corresponded with his gender identity.
The justices opted not to hear the Gloucester County School Board’s appeal of a 2020 ruling by the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that transgender student Gavin Grimm is protected under the federal law that bars sex discrimination in education, known as Title IX, and the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that people be treated equally under the law. The 4th Circuit ruling does not set a national legal precedent.
The Supreme Court’s decision to reject the appeal represents a victory for Grimm, who sued the school board in 2015 after officials at a local public high school refused to allow him to use the boys’ restrooms. The Supreme Court previously took up the case in 2016 but did not issue a ruling and sent it back to lower courts.
The brief court order noted that conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have taken up the case.
President Joe Biden’s administration, reversing the position taken by the government under his predecessor Donald Trump, said on June 16 that Title IX protects both gender identity and sexual orientation. The administration has not said specifically how that applies to school bathroom access.
Grimm, assigned female gender at birth, identifies as male. Grimm, now 22, graduated from the school in 2017.