The U.S. Supreme Court last year said it would take up the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender male student at a Virginia high school that began using the boy's bathroom while transitioning in his sophomore year.
But on Monday, the Supreme Court reversed course – the Justices will not go over the case, and instead sent it back to a lower court for a review "in light of the guidance document issued" by federal departments under the Donald Trump administration.
Grimm will graduate from Gloucester High School this year. As a sophomore, Grimm's mother notified the school her son – whose was born female – identified as male, part of a transition process as he was treated for severe gender dysphoria, the ACLU explains. Grimm got permission from school administrators to use the boy's bathroom, and did so for two months until complaints came in.
In December of 2014, the school board voted on a new bathroom policy that required students to use the bathroom the corresponds with their biological sex, or a single-stall private restroom, as Fox News reported. Here's Grimm's testimony from before the decision.
The ACLU and ACLU of Virginia have been fighting that policy in court since then, arguing Title IX protections. The most recent ruling came from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which came down in favor of Grimm. That decision was appealed to a higher court – the U.S. Supreme Court – which was supposed to take up the case on March 28.
What happened Monday, and why
But in the court's order Monday (it's the top case listed here, "Gloucester County School Board v. G.G."), it says the judgment from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is vacated (nullified, basically) and that the case will go back to the Fourth Circuit to be reconsidered.
The reasoning? New federal government guidelines.
The Washington Post breaks it down. Under President Barack Obama, the government said schools should let students use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity – and the Fourth Circuit used that philosophy to make its decision in favor of Grimm.
But last month, under new President Donald Trump, the federal government undid the Obama era policy, saying it was too vague and that the issue needs to be looked at more.
That prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to make its decision Monday, with the Fourth Circuit now having to review the case again while keeping the new federal guidelines (or lack thereof) in mind.
Grimm's case was seen as a pivotal moment for trans rights in the U.S., with the New York Times calling it the U.S. Supreme Court's "first encounter with transgender rights, and there was a good chance the case would have been one of a fairly sleepy term’s biggest decisions."
The ACLU in a statement called the decision a "detour, not the end of the road." The school board, in a statement published by Bloomberg, said it's looking forward to "explaining why its commonsense restroom and locker room" doesn't violate the Constitution.