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Why Laverne Cox told you to Google ‘Gavin Grimm’

Gavin Grimm with his parents, David Grimm and Deirdre Grimm, at their home in Gloucester, Va., this past August. The transgender teen sued the Gloucester County School Board after it barred him from using the boys’ bathroom. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

A few years ago, Gavin Grimm was an unknown student at a high school in Gloucester, Va., pleading with school officials to be able to use the boys’ bathroom. The teen, who came out as transgender his sophomore year, had begun using the boys’ bathroom when the school board decided to pass a policy banning him from it, forcing him to use a unisex bathroom instead.

Sunday night, millions more people learned his name after Laverne Cox, an actress and transgender activist, gave him a shout-out while introducing Metallica and Lady Gaga at the Grammys.

“Everyone, please Google ‘Gavin Grimm.’ He’s going to the Supreme Court in March. Hashtag stand with Gavin,” Cox told the audience. Cox signed off her introduction by referring to “Ladies and gentlemen and all my gender non-binary peeps tonight…”

Gavin Grimm just wanted to use the bathroom. He didn’t think the nation would debate it.

Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board in 2015 in federal court, arguing that the board’s policy barring him from the boys’ bathroom violated Title IX, the federal law against sex discrimination in schools. The case is now headed for the Supreme Court, with oral arguments scheduled for late March, and the case could impact how public schools accommodate transgender students across the nation.

The case is partially based on a directive issued by the Education Department under the Obama administration in May, directing the nation’s public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Should the Trump administration rescind that directive, some question whether the high court will hear the case at all, or if it will be remanded to a lower court.

Supreme Court scheduled to hear transgender bathroom case

Grimm, now 17 and a high school senior, said Sunday night that he had no idea Cox was going to mention his name and was not watching the Grammys. But his mother Deirdre was in another room, and Grimm found out only when she “started shrieking.”

“I was just so thrilled because I love her. She’s just a beautiful person inside and out,” Grimm said. “I was really touched and thrilled and honored that that was the first thing out of her mouth.”

Grimm, once painfully shy, has become the unlikely standard-bearer for transgender student rights.

“At this point, that’s the role I occupy and I want to make sure I’m using that platform for positive,” Grimm said. “I definitely didn’t set out at the beginning wanting to or expecting to shouted on the Grammys.”

It's been nearly two years since 17-year-old Gavin Grimm began his fight to use the boys' bathroom at his high school in rural Gloucester, Va. (Video: Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post, Photo: Oliver Contreras, The Post/The Washington Post)