Transgender Teen Sues Virginia School Board for Allegedly Not Allowing Him to Use Boys Room

Those with "gender identity issues" must use a private facility, the policy says

June 11, 2015, 10:03 PM

— -- A transgender teen from Virginia is suing the Gloucester County school board for allegedly discriminating against him by adopting a bathroom policy that doesn't allow him to use the boys room, a move that "undermines his social transition," according to court documents and the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit today.

Gavin Grimm, 16, told ABC News today that he's been adhering to the policy while at school, so he usually "holds it" the whole day until he's out. Otherwise he has to go to the nurse's or staff bathroom.

"It’s very stressful and humiliating," said Grimm, who was allegedly called a "freak" by a community member. "It makes it impossible for me to live as myself peacefully. The issue has outed me on grand scale, which should never have to happen to anyone."

Last August, he says he told the school in Gloucester that he was a boy and received permission to use the boys' restroom from the principal shortly after.

PHOTO: Gloucester High School in  Gloucester Courthouse, VA.
Gloucester High School in Gloucester Courthouse, VA.

But a policy change on Dec. 9, 2014 barred him from using the bathroom of his choice, the court complaint explains.

"It shall be the practice of the GCPS to provide male and female restroom and locker room facilities in its schools, and the use of said facilities shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders," the school board announced, according to the complaint, "and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative appropriate private facility."

The announcement was made after the board voted 6-1 in favor of the new policy, according to the public meeting minutes posted online.

According to the federal lawsuit, the majority of the 37 members of the public who commented at the meeting expressed opposition to Grimm's use of boys' restrooms.

"One speaker called him a 'freak' and compared him to a person who thinks he is a 'dog' and wants to urinate on fire hydrants," the ACLU alleged in the court complaint.

Since adopting the restroom policy, three unisex, single-stall restrooms separate from the boys and girls rooms have been installed, the complaint said.

But Grimm refuses to use the new bathrooms because they "undermine his social transition," stigmatize him as "different from other students" and inflict "severe and persistent emotional social harm," the ACLU said.

Gloucester County Attorney Ted Wilmot, who represents the school board, told the Associated Press that he had not seen the complaint and that any comment would be premature. He said the board likely will discuss how to respond at its next meeting, set for June 18.

But Grimm is optimistic that the case will also bring about positive change.

"My case is the first of its kind, so I'm hoping if we win it will set a legal precedent for others in similar situations," he said. "I've also got a lot of support and messages from other trans teens telling me I've given them inspiration and courage to come out in their lives, so I'm happy it's positively impacting other people."