Appeals court hears Virginia transgender teen’s case regarding bathroom use

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/AP/WAVY) — A federal appeals court heard arguments Wednesday in a Gloucester County transgender student’s lawsuit challenging his school’s restroom policy.

Gloucester High School student Gavin Grimm’s attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th District to overturn a Norfolk federal judge’s ruling — which banned him from using the boy’s bathroom.

“It’s stigmatizing. It’s dehumanizing,” Grimm said. “It’s basically saying there’s something wrong with you that makes it so that you cannot use the restroom like any other kid.”

Grimm was born female but identifies as male. In December 2014, the county school board barred Grimm from using the boys’ restrooms when they adopted a policy that required students to use bathrooms based on their biology, not gender.

Grimm said that made him feel uncomfortable, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia sued on his behalf. They sought a preliminary injunction, which would have allowed him to use the boy’s bathroom until a possible trial, but last year a Norfolk federal judge ruled against them and sided with the school board.

“It’s scary and it’s not easy,” a teary-eyed Grimm explained at a news conference following Wednesday’s hearing. “But I will do my best to help anyone that I can.”

The ACLU filed an appeal and wants the court to settle the disagreement on bathroom-use policies against gender identity.

“No kid should have to battle for the right to use the correct bathroom,” Grimm added.

Attorneys representing the Gloucester school board refused to talk about the case.

The appeals court judges are expected to issue their opinion in two-to-four months. After the decision comes down, both sides will reevaluate and determine the next step.

The case and this journey for Grimm are far from over.

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