Supreme Court sends transgender student case back to lower court

The Washington Post via Getty Images

Had the Supreme Court chosen to hear the case, it would have been the first time the justices had ever considered a question about trans rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the case on behalf of transgender student Gavin Grimm previous year to assist in his fight to use the bathroom consistent with his gender identity at his Virginia school, but his case will now be referred back to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A handful of cases are pending in federal courts, including Grimm's, all of which could reach the Supreme Court. The letter cited "significant litigation" caused by the guidance, showing the need for "due regard" of the role of states and local school districts in shaping education policy. At a minimum, though, the new order wipes out the preliminary victory he had won in lower courts.

Attorney Joshua Block of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who is representing Grimm, issued a statement expressing disappointment in the SCOTUS decision but asserting that they would press onward in the lower courts.

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Grimm was sitting in class on Monday morning when text messages started flooding his phone with the Supreme Court's announcement.

Transgender advocates were hoping for a Supreme Court decision that would come down in favor of transgender students and clarify the issue on a national level.

Grimm, 17, was born a female, but now has claims the gender identity of a male.

Legally speaking, though, things have changed since then.

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A bathroom sign welcomes both genders at the Cacao Cinnamon coffee shop in Durham, North Carolina, on May 3.

The Obama administration a year ago stated that public schools should allow transgender students access to single-sex facilities - like locker rooms and restrooms - of their current gender identity. When Gavin was denied access to the boys' bathroom at his high school in the small town of Gloucester Courthouse in Virginia, under his identity as a boy. he and his mother sued the school board under Title IX. In 2015, the Department of Education issued a recommendation that schools must generally "treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity", but the Trump administration revoked such guidance in February.

Due to Trump's administration throwing out Obama's guidance that trans kids should be treated equally, the case has returned back to a lower court.

Grimm's case now goes back to the Fourth Circuit.

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