On Friday, the Supreme Court decided to weigh in on transgender rights in the case of Gloucester County School Board vs. G.G. This gives the right wing another chance to take civil rights away from people they don’t like. Plain and simple.
At issue is whether a transgender student who identifies as a boy has a right to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender he identifies with.
Last summer, the court granted the school board’s request to put a lower court ruling in the student’s favor on hold until the board filed its petition for review by the Supreme Court. Justice Breyer joined the conservative justices in that ruling as a courtesy.
The Virginia school board established a policy mirroring “bathroom police” laws in red states like North Carolina that required students to use rest rooms and locker rooms to correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth.
In this case, the district court ruled against G.G. by relying on a 1975 regulation allowing schools to provide “separate toilet, locker room and shower facilities based on sex” provided those facilities are comparable to those provided to the opposite sex.
In January 2015, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights issued a letter opining that if schools separate students in restroom and locker rooms based on their sex a “school must treat transgender students” in a manner consistent “with their gender identity.”
Because of that letter, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed the lower court ruling in favor of G.G. It relied on a 1997 Supreme Court decision that courts generally should defer to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulation.
In reality, the right wing hopes to achieve two political objectives with this case. First, this is about denying basic rights and dignity to people who are transgender, which is consistent with their ideological opposition to rights for women, POC and members of the LGBT community. Second, the right wing is hoping to weaken Federal Agencies by attacking their ability to interpret their own regulations.