Activist Reacts To Transgender Bathroom Case Review

Posted at 10:45 PM, Oct 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-29 23:21:16-04

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia transgender teen who was barred from using his high school's men's restroom.

A lower court had ordered the school board to accommodate Grimm, but the justices in August put that order on hold while they considered hearing the appeal.

Grimm’s gender identity issue became a hot topic here in the mid-state after an Obama administration memo ordered local school districts to allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Chris Sanders, Executive Director of Tennessee Equality Project, said on Friday he's glad the justices will take up this case but he's also nervous.

"You never know how the court is going to rule. But I believe that the advocates for the student will present a very strong case, and I think most adults when they take a step back from this realize we really shouldn't be policing how students use the bathroom," Sanders said.

Sanders said this is a very serious issue.

“A ruling from the Supreme Court will be guiding and determinative for how school districts treat transgender students. What you have now are a variety of local practices throughout Tennessee since there’s not a state ruling on the matter. But that kind of inconsistency leads to some trans-students being treated very well inequitably, and some being completely ignored,” he said.

Lobbyist Marisa Richmond of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition said she was not surprised to hear that the justices will take up the case.

But Richmond said she has been concerned that there could be a 4-4 tie on this ruling because as of now there are only 8 justices.

“If there’s a 4-4 vote, although it would revert back to the 4th Circuit Court ruling which is a positive thing for Mr. Grimm, it would not resolve things for the rest of the country including the state of Tennessee where we’ve had this issue discussed at nauseum," Richmond said.

Richmond mentioned trans-students have been treated fairly in the Metro Nashville Public schools thanks to a 2008 equality school policy, but she said more work needs to be done outside of Davidson County.

"There are more and more transgender students coming out of the closet every single year. Individual schools are treating them fairly and with dignity and respect, but not all. And so we hope that the Supreme Court will say that all trans-people are covered by Title IX and that they all must all be treated with dignity and respect," Richmond said.

The court will decide whether that violates federal anti-discrimination laws sometime next year.