Obama Administration Files Brief to Support Transgender Student Rights

Written by SK Ashby

Over the last several years we've seen many attempts on the part of lawmakers and school administrators to micromanage and police the bathroom use of transgender students. Among the most memorable cases in recent memory was a proposal from a Kentucky lawmaker who introduced legislation to pay "aggrieved" students for monitoring and reporting transgender students for using the "wrong" bathroom.

A lawmaker in South Dakota recently called for visually inspecting the genitals of high school athletes before they're allowed to enter a locker room. Earlier this year a group of parents forced the Hartwood Elementary School in Stafford County, Virginia to reverse course and tightly control transgender bathroom use.

Some of these and other similar policies have been thwarted by public pressure but others have been taken to court.

The Obama administration has filed a legal brief in support of a transgender student in Virginia who was ordered not to use a restroom that corresponds with the gender he identifies as.

“Prohibiting a transgender male student from using boys’ restrooms, when other non-transgender male students face no such restriction, deprives him not only of equal educational opportunity but also “of equal status, respect, and dignity,’” lawyers from the Justice and Education departments wrote in the brief.

Grimm, a transgender male, has sued his school district, Gloucester County School District in Virginia, alleging that the district’s policy violates the ban on sex discrimination in education under Title IX of the Education Act of 1972.

As Buzzfeed News reporter Gris Geidner points out, filing this brief in an appeals court means it will apply to all similar cases filed under the 4th circuit's jurisdiction.

I have no idea if this issue will eventually land on the Supreme Court's docket but I don't believe that would necessarily be a bad thing. Recent rulings suggest to me opponents of transgender rights would fare no better than opponents of gay rights.

Transgender children shouldn't have to face discrimination from the so-called adults who oversee them in addition to pressure they undoubtedly face from their peers. It would not be a stretch to say that discrimination on the part of school administrators effectively co-signs any form of harassment a transgender student may receive from fellow students. Schools and other public institutions should not be responsible for fostering a hostile environment.