Amid their ongoing legal battle with Gavin Grimm, Gloucester County’s School Board is considering changing their policies about transgender students using the bathroom. But they haven’t taken any actual action as yet.
It’s hard to ignore the fact that Virginia is swirling back and forth in the toilet that is our government these days. From Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring’s blackface past to Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax’s sexual assault allegations, now is really not the best time to be involved with Virginia politics. That is, unless you are in Gloucester County.
Well, kind of. Sort of.
Gloucester County Schools are currently quietly reconsidering their rules about bathroom access for transgender students. The latest hearing in transgender teen Gavin Grimm’s ongoing fight against the school district over his ability to use the bathroom in his now-former high school is scheduled to take place in a few months, but the school board has quietly been negotiating outside the courtroom recently, reconsidering how it approaches its bathroom rules for its transgender students.
Previously, transgender students were given an “alternate facility” to use instead of the standard multi-occupant restrooms offered for students. The new proposal that the Gloucester County School Board has been considering will allow transgender students to use the correct bathrooms for their gender alongside other students. However, it does include some requirements, among other things that the student in question has “consistently asserted” their gender identity for at least six months.
This sure seems like a lot of severely unnecessary red tape just to poop, but okay. I sincerely doubt anyone is asking the cisgender children to assert their gender, which only adds to the absurdity… but hey, what do I know?
It’s hardly perfect, but I suppose it is a step. However, after a public hearing relating to the new policy on February 19, even this step has become more of a stumble.
All of this started about four years ago, when Gavin Grimm, then still a student at Gloucester High School, filed a discrimination lawsuit due to the school’s refusal to let him use the boy’s restroom. The case then went all the way to the Supreme Court, then was bounced back down to lower courts again after the Trump administration’s Education Department changed their interpretation of the Civil Rights Act statute that Grimm’s case was based on.
He finally won his case last year in a lower court… only to have Gloucester County Public Schools appeal again. It’s that appeal that is scheduled to be heard later this year.
Despite the fact that Grimm graduated in 2017 and is now living his best college life in Berkeley, CA, this is still following him — now the school board won’t change the gender on his transcripts. Having the incorrect gender on his paperwork will unfairly out him to potential future colleges and employers.
“I’m still tethered to 2017 by this document,” Grimm said in an interview with PBS. “It’s unfair that a high school that put me through so much is able to wield that much negative influence over my adult life.”
After the public hearing the Gloucester County School Board held on Feb. 19, they met for another hour behind closed doors. In the end, no changes were announced, and no votes on the new policy proposal were scheduled.
“The board is weighing all the information that we obtained from our constituents,” board member Brenda Mack told The Daily Press on February 20. “We had a very large group last night, and more than likely we will hear some more from concerned parents. We will definitely let them have their say and input.”
Of course, even if school board were to go through with changing the bathroom policy, that does not necessarily mean that they would be willing to change Grimm’s transcript. Changing the policy may be a step forward, but it’s still half a step back for Grimm. He has said he is dedicated to seeing this battle through to the end for other transgender children in Gloucester County.
He even mentioned in a recent Facebook post that, while returning to Gloucester County himself to speak on the recent proposal, he’d met another trans boy who is currently attending Gloucester High School. In the Facebook post, Grimm called the student “so brave and well spoken,” and wrote that “He and other students like him are the reason I decided to keep this fight going after I graduated.” And yet he’s still unable to attain the barest measure of personal success in his continued struggles with his former school district.
I say a lot of what I have to say about this with the weight of my cisgender privilege. I don’t think I will ever understand why other cisgender folks have this backwards philosophy on bathrooms, of all places. And when we do come up with “policies” on how trans people use them it’s just disgraceful.
“Present as your chosen gender for six months minimum.”
We are not doing this to cisgender children, because deep down, we know damn well how ridiculous and degrading that is. Instead, we’re consciously choosing to reward the children who play the game the way we want it to be played.
These are our children. They are human beings. We should treat them as such.
While we’re on the subject, if we could stop with this shit about how we’re policing bathrooms against our trans brothers and sisters because we want to “protect our girls and women,” it would be great. Tennessee legislator John Ragan used that exact defense for a bill he introduced in that state that would expand the definition of “indecent exposure” to go after trans people in bathrooms and locker rooms.
But we all know that’s a lie. The people who use these “defenses” for their persecution of trans people tend to be the same ones who instinctively doubt any accusation of rape or sexual assault that a woman makes against a man.
So don’t play that game, honey.
Cis friends, can we just hurry up and stop being trash to the trans community? I mean, it’s already bad enough when we make the adults feel othered, but to do this to children? That’s an entirely different line that we’ve not only crossed but jumped gleefully over. It’s time to stop.
Top photo: From Gavin Grimm’s Facebook page