Gavin Grimm returned from his adopted home of California to address the Gloucester County School Board last night regarding a proposed change to its 2014 transgender restroom usage policy. It is the same policy that thrust Mr. Grimm and Gloucester County Public Schools into the national spotlight.
That original directive created separate restroom facilities for transgender students. Last night, at a public meeting, the Board heard voices from both sides of the issue as they consider adopting a new policy drafted by a Richmond law firm representing Gloucester County Public Schools. Should the revised policy be adopted by the School Board, it will settle a long-running lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of Mr. Grimm and prevent the case from moving forward in the courts.
A Board vote on the new policy will take place at a later date.
The proposed policy change would allow transgender students in Gloucester County to use the restroom consistent with the student’s asserted gender identity when the following criteria have been met:
- the student has appropriate medical documentation from a licensed, treating healthcare provider who specializes in the treatment of transgender individuals; and
- the student has consistently asserted the student’s gender identity for a period of at least six months; and
- the student has undergone treatment recommended by the student’s healthcare provider, which may include social transition or hormone therapy for at least six months.
Last night’s hearing drew approximately 125 persons on both sides of the issue, 35 of whom signed up to speak for three minutes each. Mr. Grimm was the first to speak in support of the policy change.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that the presence of trans students in bathrooms is of any detriment to the student body,” he said. “Any policy preventing a trans student from public spaces is exclusively malicious. There is no safety concern other than the lives and happiness of the trans kids the current policy harms.
“I, as a trans man, deserve to be a part of society in full. I deserve the same access to facilities as my peers. I deserve respect and dignity. So does every trans kid in Gloucester County Public Schools and beyond.”
A majority of those present, however, spoke against the policy change, some invoking the Bible, concern for the majority of cis heterosexual students, intimidation by the ACLU, decaying of moral and cultural norms, cost of the ongoing lawsuit, and distraction from educating in the district.
Kenny E. Smith of Gloucester, who hoisted a Bible above his head while giving his remarks, asked the School Board, “I just plead with you to surrender yourself to a better decision than just social and cultural issues and letting culture define our morals instead of godly principles defining our morals.”
Smith’s remarks resulted in a standing ovation from a majority of those assembled in the audience.
Among the minority that spoke out in support of the policy change was a transgender freshman at Gloucester High School and Mr. Grimm’s mother, Deidre Grimm. Mrs. Grimm remarks reflected her experience of past four years of litigation ensuing spotlight.
“While your children were going to prom, doing sports they enjoy, my child was fighting for his life and his right to use a bathroom,” she said. “I believe God gave me this kid (Gavin) to open my heart and my mind and help me open others hearts and minds.”
Should the Board adopt the proposed revision, one lawsuit brought by Grimm against the School Board would be dropped. However, last week a federal judge ruled that Grimm may proceed with a separate lawsuit suing the Board over refusal to change his gender on his high school transcripts. Grimm’s transcript is the one remaining marker that lists him as female.