Within the last couple of weeks, two decisions were issued that relate to transgender students’ use of facilities in public schools. In Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, a federal district court judge denied the Gloucester County school board’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s amended complaint. The plaintiff, a transgender student named Gavin Grimm, alleges the school board’s policy prohibiting his use of the bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity, rather than his biological sex, is unconstitutional. Likewise, in Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously rejected an appeal from the denial of a preliminary injunction seeking to block the school district’s policy allowing students to use sex-segregated facilities corresponding to their gender identity. Continue Reading Update on Federal Courts Addressing Transgender Issues in Schools: Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board and Doe v. Boyertown Area School District
On October 30, 2017, a national, Washington-based civil rights group, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued a reminder to state attorneys general that all students, regardless of immigration status, have the constitutional right to enroll in K-12 public schools. Continue Reading New Initiative to Ensure Access to Education for Immigrant Children
It has been over one month since Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate. Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration have already had a lot of impact on schools during the past month in office, including withdrawing Obama-Era Transgender Guidance and providing guidance on consolidated state plans related to the Every Student Succeeds Act.
However, one item on Secretary DeVos’ agenda that she has not accomplished—identifying a nominee for the important position of Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. This person ultimately would head the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), including its twelve offices nationwide. Continue Reading Playing the Waiting Game: Trump Administration Has Yet to Nominate an Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
As we noted was a possible outcome in our prior analysis of the Trump Administration’s withdrawal of the Obama-era guidance on facilities use by transgender students, the Supreme Court has remanded Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. without issuing a decision. Prior to this remand order, the Court was set to decide whether Title IX required schools to allow access to sex-segregated facilities according to each student’s “internal sense of gender” as opposed to their “biological gender,” as specified in the school policy at issue. The Supreme Court’s views on that topic will remain unknown until (and if) the Court elects to review another case presenting the same question. To learn more, please visit our Higher Education Legal Insights blog.
On February 22, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Fry ex rel. E.F. v. Napoleon Community Schools. Fry addresses the circumstances in which parents must exhaust the administrative remedies found in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), when their lawsuit purports to assert claims only under other federal discrimination statutes—namely, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Court held, unanimously, that parents must exhaust IDEA’s administrative procedures only when the “substance, or gravamen, of the plaintiff’s complaint” seeks relief for the denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Continue Reading Supreme Court Clarifies Administrative Exhaustion Requirements Under IDEA
In a joint letter issued February 22, 2017, the Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) withdrew prior Title IX guidance from the Obama administration that required schools receiving federal funding to allow students to use sex-segregated facilities according to their gender identity, as opposed to their anatomical birth sex. To learn more, please visit our Higher Education Legal Insights blog.
Gavin Grimm, a transgender male high school student in Virginia, convinced the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that he must be allowed to use the men’s bathroom at school; however, the Supreme Court recently issued a stay, which is to say to Grimm, “Let’s wait a minute; is this really required by federal law?”
As schools attempt to navigate the varied, and often conflicting, views and authorities regarding transgender students’ use of bathrooms and locker rooms, one thing all sides can agree on is that clear guidance from SCOTUS would help schools know where they stand. That guidance may be coming next term. This is particularly true now that a federal district court in Texas has disagreed with the Fourth Circuit. Continue Reading Supreme Court Issues Stay Regarding Transgender Student Bathroom Order