SCOTUS vacates lower court ruling on transgender student case

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a disappointing blow to transgender student rights, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a lower court ruling and chose not to hear the case brought to it by Gavin Grimm, a Virginia transgender student who sued the the Gloucester County, Virginia School Board for discrimination. The New York Times reported that the court did so in light of a move by the Trump Administration.

In its decision, the case now goes back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The case, Gloucester County, Virginia School Board v. G.G., had been scheduled for hearing on March 28. It was to look at whether the Gloucester County School Board’s policy prohibiting transgender boys and girls from using restrooms that other boys and girls use discriminates against transgender students on the basis of sex, in violation of Title IX.

An outcry was generated by transgender advocates over the decision. One organization, GLSEN, issued a statement that shared the sentiments of others saying the the Supreme Court missed an opportunity to end the painful discrimination currently faced by thousands of transgender students nationwide.

Prior to the decision New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman had led a coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, in support of Grimm. The attorneys general argued that discrimination on the basis of gender identity causes real and significant harm to both transgender people and the states themselves.

Those filing are from New York, Washington, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and the District of Columbia. The brief was co-authored by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

“The amici States’ shared experience demonstrates that protecting transgender people from discrimination benefits all members of the public. And contrary to the petitioner’s claims, our shared experience demonstrates that protecting the civil rights of transgender people — including by allowing them access to common restrooms consistent with their gender identity — creates no public safety or personal privacy threat and imposes no meaningful financial burden,” the brief states.

In addition to the attorneys general, others also submitted joint amicus briefs.

Seven educational organizations joined forces to file. They are GLSEN, National PTA, American School Counselor Association, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Independent Schools, Colorado Association of School Executives and Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

More than 1,800 clergy and religious leaders signed a friend-of-the-court brief which included more than 95 national religious leaders from the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Alliance of Baptists, Muslims for Progressive Values, and Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism. The presidents of six seminaries and the leaders of 49 religious organizations also signed the brief. Signers belonged to approximately 50 unique religious traditions, including signers who identify as Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, and more.

Others who join in were from some of the nation’s prominent business leaders (Apple, Airbnb, eBay, Microsoft, PayPal, Salesforce, among others), major medical associations representing the scientific and medical consensus (American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, Endocrine Society, among others), labor unions representing more than a million teachers, more than 60 current and former law enforcement officials from across the country, major civil rights organizations (NAACP, National Women’s Law Center, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, among others), and a number of other groups and individuals across the country representing educators, students, parents, lawyers, artists, scientists, and veterans.

Mobile phone carrier CREDO also joined in.

In a news story in The Washington Post , journalist Steve Petrow posited the question: What is the legislating of children’s rights doing to their emotional well-being. He also asked what message it was sending to their parents.

California’s West Hollywood pushes back against Trump

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — At its regular meeting on Feb. 21, The City Council of the City of West Hollywood-approved an item that directs City of West Hollywood staff to take steps in prohibiting West Hollywood City Hall from doing business with entities that provide financial or other benefits to the President of the United States or his revocable trust. The City’s Finance Department will review the financial institutions, hotels, real estate-related companies, investors, and direct affiliates with which the City does business and develop a list in order to evaluate next steps.

“Ultimately, this is an ethics issue and a legal issue,” said West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister. “We’re addressing public concerns that President Trump continues to benefit from his business interests while in office. The Domestic Emoluments Clause clearly states that the President shall not receive any gifts or benefits other than his compensation — no other President in this country’s history has so blatantly disregarded protocol and the Constitution. And, as Councilmembers, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution.”

The City of West Hollywood, in December 2016, reaffirmed its commitment to its core values and is working diligently to defend the fundamental rights of its community members. The city is monitoring federal proposals and is responding to policy changes that may have a harmful effect on West Hollywood’s residents, including LGBTQ residents, people with disabilities, seniors, people of color, immigrants, women and others.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.