Gavin Grimm $1.3 million for legal fees in landmark transgender lawsuit

The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that the Gloucester County School Board will be ordered to pay over $1.3 million in attorney’s fees and costs requested in Gavin Grimm’s discrimination case.

Gavin Grimm sued his school board for excluding him the restrooms any other boy in his school would use — simply because he is transgender.

After six years of litigation, the Supreme Court in June 2021 declined to review lower court decisions ruling that the school board’s discriminatory restroom policy for transgender students violated Title IX and the Constitution.

In a court filing on Thursday, August 26, 2021, the school board informed the court it would not oppose Gavin’s petition for fees and costs and would pay the entire amount requested in the fee petition.

“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,” said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “After a year in which state legislatures have introduced an unprecedented number of bills targeting trans youth, we hope that the fee award will give other school boards and lawmakers pause before they use discrimination to score political points.”

“Rather than allow a child equal access to a safe school environment, the Gloucester School Board decided to fight this child for five years in a costly legal battle that they lost,” said Gavin Grimm. “I hope that this outcome sends a strong message to other school systems, that discrimination is an expensive losing battle.”

“The resolution in Gavin’s case is yet another reason school boards across Virginia should adopt the model policies from the Virginia Department of Education,” said Eden Heilman, legal director at the ACLU of Virginia. “Discrimination has no place in Virginia schools, and Virginia taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for school boards who act in disregard for the law.”

When Gavin Grimm came out to his school as a boy who is transgender, his school board adopted a discriminatory new prohibiting boys and girls “with gender identity issues” from using the same common restrooms as other boys and girls. The new policy directed Gavin to an “alternative appropriate private facility” instead. Throughout the rest of high school, Gavin was forced to use separate restrooms that no other student was required to use. That degrading and stigmatizing policy singled Gavin out as unfit to use the same restrooms as every other student. The Board continued to exclude Gavin even after he began receiving hormone therapy (which altered his bone and muscle structure, deepened his voice, and caused him to grow facial hair), obtained a Virginia state I.D. card listing his sex as male, underwent chest reconstruction surgery, obtained a court order legally changing his sex to male under Virginia law, and received a new Virginia birth certificate reflecting that his sex is male.

Even after graduation, the school Board continued

discriminating against Gavin by refusing to provide him with a transcript that matches the “male” sex designation on his birth certificate. As a result, whenever Gavin was required to provide a transcript to colleges or potential employers, he had to provide a transcript that identified him as “female.”

Represented by the ACLU and ACLU of Virginia, Gavin sued his school board for discriminating against him in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination by schools.

After four years of litigation—including a trip to the Supreme Court and back– the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in favor of Gavin on all his claims. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the ruling in favor of Gavin on August 26, 2020.

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