The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide within weeks whether to hear a major transgender rights case for the first time, a dispute involving which bathroom a Virginia high school student can use, but the justices have reasons to duck the issue.
The case involves a 17-year-old transgender student named Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male and is mounting a legal challenge to gain the right to use the boys’ bathroom at his public high school in Gloucester County, Virginia.
The local school board is asking the justices to hear its appeal of an April 19 ruling by the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found that transgender students are protected under U.S. laws that bar sex-based discrimination.
If the high court refuses to hear the case, the justices would leave in place the groundbreaking appeals court ruling in favor of transgender rights that Grimm could use the bathroom of the student’s choice. If the justices hear it, it would be one of the biggest cases of the 2016-17 term that opens Oct. 3.