A federal appeals court that sided with a transgender teen in his lawsuit against a Virginia school board has denied the board’s request to rehear the case before a full panel of judges.
The Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled in April that a lawsuit filed by transgender teen Gavin Grimm, who sued the Gloucester County School Board after it passed a policy banning him from the boy’s bathroom, could move forward.
The initial decision by a three-judge panel last month was the first time a federal appeals court had weighed in on the question of whether bathroom restrictions constitute a violation of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination at schools that receive federal money. It is being closely watched nationwide as battles over the rights of transgender students head to court.
The school board in May requested a rehearing of the case before a full panel of judges, known as an “en banc” hearing, arguing that the case warranted a second look because it has national implications.
Tuesday, the court denied the petition after no judge requested a poll to see whether a majority of his or her colleagues wanted to move forward.
Nonetheless, Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote a dissent, saying that he believes the case deserves to be reheard but declined to request a poll himself because he wants the case to move quickly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Niemeyer also dissented from the court’s decision in April, saying that the court’s holding “overrules custom, culture and the very demands inherent in human nature for privacy and safety.”
The case is set to head back to a federal court in Virginia, where a judge will reconsider it in light of the ruling from the appeals court, including whether Grimm should be permitted to use the restroom while the suit proceeds.
Joshua Block, the ACLU attorney representing Grimm, said he was pleased by the appeals court’s decision because it could mean a swifter resolution for the high school student, who was assigned female at birth but identifies as a boy.
“We hope this means it won’t be much longer until he’s finally able to use the restroom again,” Block said.
An attorney for the school board did not return an immediate request for comment.