The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a request concerning the Department of Education’s recent decision to include gender identity discrimination under their broader category of “sex discrimination,” which in turn allows trans people equal access to bathrooms that coincide with their gender expression.
The decision was made by a panel of three judges in response to a request from the Glouchester County School Board over a ruling last April, which determined that Gavin Grimm, a trans high schooler in Virginia, should be allowed to use both the boys’ bathroom and locker room at his school.
Grimm’s original lawsuit stemmed from a backlash from an anti-trans contingent after he was given permission from his principal to use bathrooms and locker rooms that aligned with his gender identity. Two months after Grimm began using these facilities, a number of adults—some of whom had no affiliation with the school—“threatened to vote out the school board if they did not bar Grimm from the men’s bathroom,” calling him “a freak,” according to Slate. The school board eventually caved to the demands of the anti-trans protesters, which prompted Grimm to sue. Aided by the ACLU, Grimm won the suit.
As the Advocate reported, the Fourth Circuit’s ruling is a landmark of its own kind, signifying the first time a federal appeals court has included gender identity discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
Adhering to Title IX, the court’s finding dictates that public schools must allow trans students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, and that they can ultimately lose federal funding if they choose not to do so.
Out of the members of the judiciary panel, only Judge Paul Niemeyer expressed a desire to entertain the Glouchester County School Board’s request and reconsider the case, which in turn would allow for each judge in the circuit to weigh in, and possibly reverse the decision. (Slate also noted that Niemeyer, a judge appointed by George H.W. Bush, previously dissented against his circuit’s ruling on same-sex marriage, arguing for equal marriage bans to maintain “stable family units” and to “giv[e] children an identity.”)
“Bodily privacy is historically one of the most basic elements of human dignity and individual freedom,” Niemeyer said in court regarding the latest case.
[F]orcing a person of one biological sex to be exposed to persons of the opposite biological sex profoundly offends this dignity and freedom. Have we not universally condemned as inhumane such forced exposure throughout history as it occurred in various contexts, such as in prisons? And do parents not universally find it offensive to think of having their children’s bodies exposed to persons of the opposite biological sex?
Niemeyer also had some words for the Obama administration, which he accused of parlaying to “the politically correct acceptance of gender identification as the meaning of ‘sex.’” He argued:
[It would] mean how any given person identifies himself or herself at any given time, thereby, of necessity, denying all affected persons the dignity and freedom of bodily privacy. Virtually every civilization’s norms on this issue stand in protest.
What a lovely, lovely man.
As of now, Niemeyer is rallying the school board to bring the case to the Supreme Court.
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