The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday declined to hear the latest iteration of former high school student Gavin Grimm's legal battle with the school board of Gloucester County, Virginia, effectively putting an end to one of the most high-profile transgender rights cases in the country. The non-ruling was a de facto win for Grimm and the transgender community as a whole.
Grimm, who graduated from Gloucester High School in 2017, initially sued the district for discrimination after the school board voted that all students must use the bathroom that aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth. Grimm, who is transgender, had initially been given permission from the school's principal to use the men's restroom.
"I am boy, and it is important to me to live life like other boys do, including using the boys' bathroom," Grimm wrote at the time, at the onset of what would become a multi-year battle with the school board that transformed a simple request to use the restroom into a hugely public fight for transgender rights in the schools.
Grimm's case has bounced between the various levels of the judicial system for several years now, with a number of lower courts ruling in his favor. The Supreme Court had initially agreed to hear his case in 2016, before reversing itself and sending the issue back to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in Grimm's favor in 2020. Attorneys for Gloucester County then petitioned the Supreme Court to re-hear the case after the 4th Circuit's ruling. The SCOTUS justices rejected that petition Monday, seemingly in agreement with Grimm's attorneys who wrote that the school district had "fail[ed] to offer a compelling reason for this court’s review."
On Twitter, Grimm took a well-deserved victory lap after the court announced its decision, proclaiming once and for all that "it's over. We won."
Crucially, however, while Grimm's case may have had a happy (and long overdue) ending, more than 100 transphobic bills have been introduced in at least 33 states so far, many directly targeting minors, as discriminatory efforts from conservative lawmakers ramp up around the country. In a sign that Grimm's victory will not be the end of the legal war for transgender rights, Monday's ruling came with a crucial note that although the Supreme Court had chosen to deny the school district's request for a hearing, "Justice [Clarence] Thomas and Justice [Samuel] Alito would grant the petition for a writ of certiorari."
In other words: There are still justices on the bench who would have happily sat and listened to the school board explain why it had a right to discriminate against transgender students.