U.S. Supreme Court Sends Landmark Transgender Rights Case Back To Lower Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on March 6 decided to take a pass on hearing its first transgender-rights case in light of a shift in policy by the Trump administration.

In a brief order, the high court sent the case, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., back to a lower court for more proceedings.

The court’s order was the result of the Trump administration revoking Obama-era federal guidance to schools nationwide. The guidance had advised schools that Title IX, a federal civil-rights law, prohibits schools from discriminating on the basis of gender identity and required them to offer transgender students equal access to school amenities, including restrooms.

When the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2016 ruled that Glou­cester High School transgender student Gavin Grimm had the right to use boys’ restrooms in keeping with his gender identity, the court referenced the Obama guidance.

Since Trump’s Departments of Justice and Education revoked that guidance on Feb. 22, the Supreme Court, which had been scheduled to hear arguments in the Virginia case on March 28, remanded the case back to the 4th Circuit for reconsideration.

Days earlier, Americans United was joined by the National LGBT Bar Association in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the case through its Protect Thy Neighbor project. AU argued that religious or moral beliefs cannot dictate how government enforces the law, especially when those beliefs result in harm to others.

“Gloucester’s demeaning policy treats Gavin and transgender students like second-class citizens,” Barry W. Lynn, AU’s executive director, said in a statement. “It’s disgraceful that the school board is discriminating against children, and that members of the community encouraged the board to discriminate in the name of religion. Gavin simply wants to be treated with dignity and equality, like every other Gloucester student.”