The Supreme Court stayed a Fourth Circuit ruling that requires schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify as. We are monitoring the case for its impact on employers going forward. For our past analysis on this issue, please refer to the following posts:

In recent years, state and federal courts have consistently ruled in favor of those seeking to define their gender identity.  However, the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in — a situation that is about to change as the accelerating national discussion of transgender rights finally makes its way to the Supreme Court.

In 2015, G.G., a transgender high school student attending school in Gloucester County, Virginia, challenged his school’s policy requiring students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their genders assigned at birth.  G.G. alleged that the policy violated both the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the laws and Title IX.  The District Court ignored the constitutional claim and ruled that a 1975 regulation that allows school to provide “separate toilets, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex,” barred his Title IX claim.

This April, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision.  It pointed to the Department of Education’s January 7, 2015 opinion letter from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which concluded that if schools opt to separate students in restrooms based on their sex, a school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.  Ultimately, a divided Fourth Circuit deferred to the Department of Education’s interpretation of its own regulations.  The Fourth Circuit’s ruling was the first by an appeals court to find that transgender students are protected under federal laws that bar sex-based discrimination.  Further, the Fourth Circuit declined to stay its ruling and remanded the case to the District Court, which issued a preliminary injunction requiring the school board to allow G.G. to use the boys’ restroom while the parties litigate the case on its merits.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Poised to Weigh in on Transgender Rights