“Orange Is the New Black” transgender star Laverne Cox used her time on stage at the 59th Grammy Awards to draw awareness to the case of transgender student Gavin Grimm. But who is Grimm, and what does the hashtag #StandWithGavin stand for?
Grimm, a transgender student from Gloucester, Va., who is now 17, used a boys bathroom at his high school in 2014. The Gloucester County School Board responded by creating a policy designed to ban Grimm and other transgender students from using the bathrooms aligned with their gender identities, rather than the genders listed on their birth certificates.
The American Civil Liberties Union took up the case, filing a lawsuit against the school board on Grimm’s behalf on the grounds that it said violated the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX That title states that schools cannot discriminate against students on the basis of sex.
As Cox noted on stage at the Grammys while introducing the on-stage performance team-up of Metallica and Lady Gaga, the ACLU has continued to fight Grimm’s case through the courts. A district court judge ruled the school board was not in violation of Title IX with its policy, but the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the ruling. The Gloucester School Board then appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear the case in March.
Cox also mentioned the #StandWithGavin hashtag, which protesters and the ACLU have used to organize in support of Grimm and the case.
The case is a landmark, as it will likely create a far-reaching precedent that determines future cases of discrimination against transgender students. The Supreme Court’s ruling will likely decide whether Title IX applies to transgender students when judges rule whether students have been discriminated against on the basis of sex. That could potentially block similar policies by other school boards across the country — or pave the way for them.