Editorial: Title IX, rights, and a vacant Supreme Court seat

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Editorial: Title IX, rights, and a vacant Supreme Court seat


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The Supreme Court is set to hear a potentially landmark case in the battle for LGBTQ rights. This is the second major case the Supreme Court has heard with regards to the LGBTQ community in the past two years (the first being the mandate that all U.S. states legalize same-sex marriage).

The upcoming case deals with the increasingly ubiquitous debate over public restrooms. According to NPR, the case, Gloucester County School Board v. Grimm, involves a transgender boy who was able to use the boy’s restroom as a freshman in high school until some parents complained. As a result,  the School Board adopted a policy requiring students to use the restrooms corresponding with their biological sex or a separate single-stall restroom.

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th District agreed to see the case. Gloucester County then petitioned the court, and justices ruled (5-3) that the School Board did not have to follow the order of the lower court.

According to numerous sources, Grimm’s argument has been that Title IX (the federal law banning sex-based discrimination in schools) protects transgender people as well.

The case becomes interesting because, according to the Washington Post, Title IX may not apply to this scenario. Title IX does not make a comment on gender classification; rather, it comments on the ability of men and women to use specific facilities. Grimm’s case may, therefore, have some difficulty proving a connection to Title IX because Grimm would have to prove that as a male, he is being discriminated against (as opposed to the school debating how he defines his own gender). This is not to say that Grimm does not have a case, but that he may not be able to win on the grounds that the actions of the Gloucester County School Board violated Title IX.

Regardless of whether this case is winnable for Grimm, federal legislation like Fair Housing and Civil Rights could also be affected by the decision.

While the case will not be heard until sometime next year, the implications of this case are massive and are only magnified by the battle currently going on over the ninth Supreme Court seat. This case — taken alone — will have effects on many future cases involving transgender individuals. But given that there may be an impending flip of partisan power on the Supreme Court, the precedent set by this case will inform all future cases involving public expectations, no mater how insensitive of transgendered people.

The weight of this case, therefore, cannot go unnoticed. The actual decision may be several months away, but it is never too early for the Supreme Court to consider the long-lasting impact of its decisions. The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes it is the Supreme Court’s duty to protect the rights of these Americans, as it finally did last year for other members of the LGBTQ Community.

Perhaps because of the vague language used in Title IX, this could not be the case that opens doors like the gay marriage decisionof last year opened doors for other members of the LGBTQ community. But it is the beginning of a more serious national discussion of openness that has been coming for some time.

That said, we hope the case to rule in favor of Grimm. But it seems this all sits in limbo of who will sit in the ninth seat on the Supreme Court and how that person chooses to interpret Title IX.