The Scoop From the States, 3rd Week of May

Justice Clarence Thomas was the only dissenting voice as the Supreme Court let the Grimm ruling stand.

Justice Clarence Thomas was the only dissenting voice as the Supreme Court let the Grimm ruling stand.

Thumbs-UpVirginiaAccording to Politico’s “Under the Radar” blog, the U.S. Supreme Court is letting the appeals court ruling in the Gavin Grimm case stand. Grimm, a male transgender student, sued the Gloucester Country Virginia school system for the right to use the boy’s restroom at his school. The appellate ruling upheld the U.S. Department of Education’s right to interpret civil rights law in such a way that requires transgender students have access to the restroom for the gender they identify with. In Monday’s decision, only a single justice, Clarence Thomas, dissented. The ruling is only binding in the federal court district consisting of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina. If courts from other districts disagree, it is still possible the Supreme Court would need to step in to resolve the disagreement.

Question-MarkMississippi – After initially agreeing to abide by the Obama administration’s guidelines as sent out by the U.S. Department of Education last week for protecting the rights of transgender students, it appears the superintendent of Mississippi schools has changed his mind. Citing pressure from state politicians, Cary Wright announced Wednesday that he will not move to amend state policies to bring them into compliance, according to a report from ABC news. He encouraged the state board of education to discuss options and produce some guidance for how to move forward.

Thumbs-DownGeorgia – Following Mississippi’s lead, on Friday Georgia school superintendent Richard Woods advised school districts in the state not to heed the Obama administration guidelines either, as reported by ABC News. He reminded them that the guidelines are not law, simply guidance, and he assured them that if federal money is lost due to enforcement efforts of the U.S. government, he would work with them to “take appropriate action.” Georgia schools are said to accept more than two billion dollars of federal aid, all of which is provided on the condition that the state follow federal regulations including anti-discrimination rules.

Question-MarkTexas – The Texas Republican party issued a platform paper last Saturday that pushes for a law similar to HB 2 in North Carolina that restricts restroom use in schools based on the gender recorded on a birth certificate. “We urge the enactment of legislation addressing individuals’ use of bathrooms, showers and locker rooms that correspond with their biologically determined sex,” the platform states, as item 87 of its 266-point plan.

Question-MarkOklahoma – The Oklahoma state legislature is crafting a bill that would allow students on religious grounds to demand restrooms separate from those used by transgender students, according to Reuters news service. Concern has been expressed that the bill will force schools to make costly renovations to offer the required restroom facilities. The bill also declares an “emergency”, necessitating “the preservation of the public peace.” The Oklahoma legislature has shown itself willing in recent days to take extremists positions with the passage of a bill that criminalizes abortions and the consideration of another that calls for the impeachment of President Obama and members of his administration involved in enforcing the rights of transgender students.


About Author

Suzi Chase writes about transgender issues through both fiction and non-fiction. She has had careers in teaching and software engineering and has raised two children.

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