Virginia school board: Court should delay transgender case

Virginia high school student, Gavin Grimm. Photo by Steve Helber, AP.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Virginia school board that wants to keep a transgender teen from using the boys' restroom at his high school is calling on the Supreme Court to delay consideration of the case to allow the Trump administration to weigh in.

A delay also could allow time for Senate confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

The Gloucester County school board said in a letter to the court Wednesday that the justices should decide whether the federal anti-sex discrimination law for education applies to high school senior Gavin Grimm and other transgender students. But the board also says the court should get more input from the Trump administration before it hears the case.

Argument currently is scheduled for March 28. The school board suggests a delay of at least a month.

Gorsuch's Senate hearing is scheduled to begin March 20 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants a vote on Gorsuch's confirmation before the second week in April.

In a separate letter to the court Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union said on behalf of Grimm that the court should decide the reach of the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX.

The court filings were prompted by the administration's decision last week to withdraw an Obama administration directive to schools across the country that children should be allowed to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. The administration said the decision should be left to state and local officials.

The Obama era guidance was the basis for an appeals court ruling in Grimm's favor. No appeals court has yet addressed the issue in the absence of the guidance.

The justices could hear the case in March and then figure out what to do. They could postpone it to April or even next fall. They could also scratch the case from their calendar and return it to the lower court. There's a good chance Grimm will graduate from high school in early June before the final resolution of his case, even if the high court hears it and rules in his favor.

Grimm's is not the only case making its way through the courts that deals with the rights of transgender students under federal law or the Constitution.

Among the others:

—Illinois: In a pending case, a federal magistrate has recommended denial of a request by a group of parents to bar a transgender student from full access to the girls' restrooms and locker rooms at a high school in the Chicago suburb of Palatine.

—Wisconsin: A federal judge in Milwaukee ruled last year that the Kenosha Unified School District must allow a transgender student to use bathrooms consistent with his gender identity while his lawsuit progresses through the courts.

—Ohio: A federal judge ruled last year against a school district in Morrow County, saying a transgender student who identifies as female should be treated "like the girl she is." Judge Algenon Marbley said the district failed to provide a persuasive argument that giving the student access to the girls' restroom would jeopardize other students' privacy or safety.

—North Carolina: In a pending case, the ACLU is representing three transgender plaintiffs challenging House Bill 2, the North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use restrooms in schools and many other public buildings that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate, not their gender identity. Passed in March 2016, the law also limits other antidiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

—Pennsylvania: A federal judge ruled Feb. 27 that three transgender students at a Pittsburgh-area high school, including the sister of a singer who performed at Trump's inauguration, can use bathrooms that correspond to their stated gender identities while their lawsuit challenging the school district's policy continues

—Texas: Along with 12 other states, Texas filed a lawsuit last year challenging an Obama administration directive advising public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. A federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the directive nationwide in August; the directive has now been revoked by the Trump administration.
Copyright Associated Press. By Mark Sherman and David Crary - The Gayly 3/1/2017 @ 2:51