The U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice made that argument in a friend-of-the-court brief submitted late Wednesday in support of a Virginia teenager who is suing for access to the boys’ restrooms at his high school.
The government’s filing says a Gloucester County School Board policy that requires 16-year-old junior Gavin Grimm to use either the girls’ restrooms or a unisex bathroom constitutes unlawful bias under Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.
The policy denies Grimm “a benefit that every other student at this school enjoys: access to restrooms that are consistent with his or her gender identity,” lawyers for the two departments wrote. “Treating a student differently from other students because his birth-assigned sex diverges from his gender identity constitutes differential treatment on the basis of sex under Title IX.”
The administration’s position in Grimm’s case represents its clearest statement to date on a modern civil rights issue that has roiled some communities as more children identify as transgender at younger ages.
While not legally binding, it signals to school districts that may be wrestling with how to accommodate transgender students while addressing privacy concerns raised by classmates and parents which side of the debate they should take if they want to avoid a federal investigation.
Don’t think you can get out of this by taking your kids out of public schools. Title IX applies to private schools too, as long as they receive federal money. While this is much more applicable to colleges and universities (who benefit from federal financial aid assistance, research money, and so forth), some private schools receive federal money through particular programs. According to the US Education department, those programs include teacher training, assistance for poor students, aid teaching English to immigrant students, gifted and talented programs, and other things.
Want to keep that federal money teaching poor Latino immigrant kids how to speak English in your inner-city Catholic school? Better let boys use the girls restroom, or the might of the US Government will come down hard on you.
It’s coming. For some school districts, it’s already here.
This is one reason why the 2016 election is going to be massively important. Hillary Clinton will certainly keep this outrageous policy. I doubt very much a Republican president will. But I don’t know that for sure. In any case, politics remains important, but at best it will be a delaying action for matters like this. In Weimar America, trans is a cultural juggernaut.