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Obama Administration Supports Transgender Boy in Fight Against School Bathroom Policy

The Department of Justice says he should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity.

A transgender boy who sued his school for discrimination has received the support of the Obama administration. The Department of Justice submitted a 40-page legal brief arguing that Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy who was prevented from using the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia high school, should be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity.

“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,’” the lawyers wrote in the legal brief filed to the Fourth Circuit of Appeals.

Grimm came out as a transgender boy in the summer of his freshman year of high school. At first, he used the nurse’s bathroom, but it became inconvenient to walk to the nurse’s office every time he needed to use the bathroom. But when he began using the boys’ bathroom, the school board reached out to Grimm and his family to let him know that his right to use the boys’ bathroom would be put to a vote at a school board meeting. In December of last year, he was told that he would be required instead to use a special unisex bathroom.

“The school board may think they solved the problem, but being offered a unisex bathroom still singles me out from other students since I'm the only one required to use it,” Grimm wrote on the ACLU website last December. “I am boy (sic), and it is important to me to live life like other boys do, including using the boys' bathroom. I am disappointed that the school board decided to ignore my best interest, including others in the same situation, and chose to adopt a policy that is discriminatory and spreads fear and misinformation.”

With the help of the ACLU, Grimm sued his school district on grounds of discrimination. The support of the Department of Justice will carry hefty political weight in court.

“Treating a student adversely because the sex assigned to him at birth does not match his gender identity is literally discrimination ‘on the basis of sex,’” the DOJ wrote in its brief.

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