RICHMOND,US — College applications and high school graduation are the biggest worries for most 17-year-olds. For Gavin Grimm, it’s waiting for the nation’s highest court to decide whether he can use the boys restroom.
Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, heads back to Gloucester High School for his senior year this week as the US Supreme Court considers whether to intervene in his case that challenges the county school’s policy barring him from using the bathroom of his choice.
For now, Grimm will have to continue using a private single-stall restroom or a bathroom in the nurse’s office. The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided in April with Grimm, but the Supreme Court recently ruled that the school board can keep him out of the boys restroom at least until the justices decide whether to hear the school board’s appeal.
If the Supreme Court declines to take Grimm’s case, the 4th Circuit ruling in his favor will stand. The appeals court said the policy violated federal law, deferring to a US Department of Education rule that says transgender students in public schools must be allowed to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
When Grimm filed his lawsuit in 2015, he anticipated a quick legal fight, with the school board ultimately backing down, he said. He had no idea the case would rise all the way to the Supreme Court, thrusting him into the centre of the polarising debate over transgender rights.
If the court decides it take it up, the prohibition on him using the boys restroom will remain in effect until there’s a final ruling. If the Supreme Court denies the school board’s petition for review, a lower court order requiring the board to let Grimm use the bathroom of his choice will be reinstated.
The fate of Grimm’s case — the first of its kind to land in the Supreme Court — is now in the hands of its eight justices. Four of them must agree for the court to hear the case.
For Grimm, what’s next is figuring out what he wants to do after high school. He plans to go to college, but doesn’t know where yet, he said. All he’s sure of now is that he wants to get out of Gloucester as soon as he can.