Virginia school board delays ending transgender bathroom ban
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A school board in Virginia said Thursday that it won’t take any immediate action to overturn its transgender student bathroom ban, making what appeared to be a change in course after several community members urged the board to keep the ban in place.
Just a few days ago, the Gloucester County School Board was talking about possibly ending the four-year ban. A new policy was proposed that could help settle the discrimination lawsuit filed by Gavin Grimm, a former student who’s become a national face for transgender rights.
But then the board held a public meeting on Tuesday. Some people showed support for the proposal. Many did not, quoting passages from the Bible and saying that too many students would feel uncomfortable for the sake of a few.
Two days later, the board said in a statement that it “has not set a time frame for when any action will be taken or when any further discussion will be held regarding the resolution.”
The school board, which represents a somewhat rural community east of Richmond, declined to comment further.
In response, Grimm and his attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union promised to fight on.
“It’s disappointing that the board is choosing to prolong the suffering of trans youth in Gloucester County Public Schools, but we will see this fight through no matter how long it takes,” Grimm, 19, said in a statement.
ACLU attorney Joshua Block added he is “confident that Gavin will ultimately prevail. The federal courts are there to protect individuals from discrimination when politicians refuse to do so.”
The new policy the board had proposed would allow high school students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
Block, the ACLU attorney, said the measure was discussed during a recent settlement hearing between both sides in an effort to resolve the case.
“The proposed policy is not something we would affirmatively support,” he said Tuesday. “But it is acceptable as part of a negotiated settlement.”
Meanwhile, a trial for Grimm’s lawsuit is scheduled for July in U.S. District Court.
The federal judge has already shown signs of support for Grimm’s cause. Last year, Judge Arenda Wright Allen declined the board’s request to dismiss, writing that the board’s policies “singled out and stigmatized Mr. Grimm.”
Kim Hensley, a former school board member who attended Tuesday night’s meeting, noted afterward that the community is divided over the bathroom issue. But she said support has grown for transgender students.
When the bathroom ban was put in place in 2014, she said there was “landslide” support for it.