Confusion Reigns on Transgender Bathrooms as Schools Prepare for Fall

Aug 5, 2016

As schools across Virginia prepare for the end of summer and the first day of classes, superintendents and principals will be waiting to hear the outcome in a dramatic court case that could have a lasting influence for transgender students across the country.

A Gloucester County transgender student will not be able to use the bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity when classes start this fall. That’s because four justices on the Supreme Court are blocking an injunction issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in his case against the school system there. 

The court has not yet indicated whether they’ll take the case, but the move this week to block the injunction could be an indication they don’t want to let the lower court’s ruling be the final word.

Credit Associated Press

“The Supreme Court wants to be the one that determines whether or not that ruling is valid and sticks."

That’s Virginia legal expert Rich Kelsey.

“And it wants to do it before the effects of that lower court’s ruling are put in place and then the court winds up having to change back the law."

And it’s not just Gloucester that’s dealing with this issue. Parents of a transgender student in Stafford County are pressing school leaders there to let their elementary school age child use a bathroom that corresponds with her gender identify.

Irene Egan is vice chairwoman of the school board there.

"It doesn’t make any sense for us to take action on this at the moment until we know what the decision is of U.S. Supreme Court if they even take it."

Legal experts say if the court decides to take up the case, it could end up becoming one of the most important Supreme Court cases in a generation.