by Danny Hooley
RICHMOND, Va. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has denied a request for an en banc review of an April decision by a panel of the same court that found that Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. In that case, a three-judge panel ruled in favor of a transgender student who challenged his high school’s discriminatory restroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers by requiring them to use “alternative, private” facilities.
“Now that the Fourth Circuit’s decision is final, I hope my school board will finally do the right thing and let me go back to using the boys’ restroom again,” said Gavin Grimm, the high school junior who is the plaintiff in the case. “Transgender kids should not have to sue their own school boards just for the ability to use the same restrooms as everyone else.”
Today’s decision supports legal arguments being made against North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which prohibits transgender people, including public school students, from using public single-sex facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. In a federal lawsuit, the ACLU of North Carolina, American Civil Liberties Union, and Lambda Legal argue that HB2 is illegal because it violates Title IX and the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. North Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit.
“This decision further backs up what we and others have said about HB2 from the moment it was introduced: it is illegal, discriminatory, and threatens the wellbeing and safety of transgender students,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “It’s time for Governor McCrory and the legislature to end their harmful and mean-spirited campaign to bully transgender students, acknowledge that HB2 violates federal law, and repeal this discriminatory measure once and for all.”
North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in Title IX funding for secondary and post-secondary schools.
In an en banc review, cases are reconsidered by every active judge, of which there are 15 in the Fourth Circuit. In April, a three-judge panel ruled in favor of Grimm in his challenge to Gloucester High School’s discriminatory restroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers by requiring them to use “alternative, private” facilities.
The ruling marked the first time a federal appeals court has determined Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. The Fourth Circuit remanded the case for the district court to reevaluate Gavin’s request for a preliminary injunction under the proper legal standard.