The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday it is pressing forward with a lawsuit against what it describes as a discriminatory bathroom policy at Gloucester County Public Schools in Virginia. The lawsuit is part of a larger battle by LGBT activists to ensure equal restroom accommodations for transgender individuals.
Last month a U.S. district judge refused the ACLU’s request for a preliminary injunction against the school district in a case over whether transgender high school student Gavin Grimm should be permitted to use the boys’ bathrooms. The ACLU said Wednesday it has asked the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to take up the matter.
“We hope and expect that the 4th Circuit will reverse the lower court’s ruling and reaffirm that Title IX and the Constitution protect transgender students from being singled out for different treatment simply because of who they are,” said Joshua Block, an ACLU senior staff attorney. “School officials must treat all students equally and may not demean and stigmatize transgender students by relegating them to separate restrooms from their peers.”
The school district has argued that Grimm is not being discriminated against because he is still free to use the girls’ room or one of the school’s unisex bathrooms. A rule passed by the school board in December 2014 requires all students to use either unisex bathrooms or the bathroom associated with their gender assigned at birth. The district court judge said such rules are permissible, despite a filing in support of the plaintiff from the U.S. Justice Department.
Bathroom rules are a major front in the battle for transgender rights, according to LGBT activists. These activists often refer to such rules as bathroom-bully laws because they prevent transgender people from using the restrooms that align with their gender identities. Proposals for such laws have become more prevalent in recent years.
“We are going to battle over bathrooms,” Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told Al Jazeera in August.
Over the past two years, lawsuits filed on behalf of transgender students have forced changes to bathroom rules at schools in Colorado and Maine.