The Virginia school board that lost a years-long court battle with a transgender student must now pay that student’s legal bills – which total over a million dollars.
Gavin Grimm, who transitioned from female to male as a teenager, sued the Gloucester County School Board in 2015 after his high school barred him from using the boys’ bathrooms. The legal saga that followed ended in June this year, after Grimm won in federal court and the Supreme Court declined to hear the school board’s appeal.
He was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, for the cost of $1.3 million. The Gloucester County School Board has now agreed to pay that bill.
“We are glad that this long litigation is finally over and that Gavin has been fully vindicated by the courts, but it should not have taken over six years of expensive litigation to get to this point,” Grimm’s lawyer, Josh Block, said in a statement.
Grimm, now 22, also praised the decision.
“This outcome sends a strong message to other school systems that discrimination is an expensive, losing battle,” the former student said.
So far, the Gloucester County School Board has made no comment except to say that the bills will be paid.
“The insurance provider for the Gloucester County School Board has addressed the Plaintiff’s request for attorney fees and costs resulting from the Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board litigation,” the board told the Associated Press. “The School Board has no further comment on this matter.”
Mr Grimm’s long journey began in his sophomore year at Gloucester High School, when his mother informed the administration that he was undergoing a gender transition. At first, the school allowed him to use the boys’ restrooms.
Then other students’ parents complained. Changing its policy, the school declared that bathrooms and locker rooms “shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders.”
As a result, Grimm has said, he suffered urinary tract infections from avoiding the bathrooms entirely and grappled with severe emotional stress, including suicidal thoughts. In 2015, he sued the school board.
Four years later, a federal judge ruled in his favor.
“There is no question that the board’s policy discriminates against transgender students on the basis of their gender nonconformity,” wrote Judge Arenda Wright Allen of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
After the ruling, Grimm said it showed that “discrimination is not legal in America.”
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