A school district that discriminated against transgender teen Gavin Grimm, by making him go to the bathroom in a converted supply closet, will have to pay $1.3 million in attorney's fees and other costs accrued over six years of litigation.

The Gloucester County School Board in Virginia reached a settlement with Grimm, who was a student in the district in 2014 when the school board met to create a policy to ban him from using the boys' bathroom.

Grimm had started using the boys' restroom in his sophomore year, but some parents and students complained, resulting in a school policy that required students to only use the restroom of their birth-assigned or "biological" gender.

“Rather than allow a child equal access to a safe school environment, the Gloucester School Board decided to fight this child for five years in a costly legal battle that they lost," Grimm said in a statement. “I hope that this outcome sends a strong message to other school systems, that discrimination is an expensive losing battle."

Grimm has since revealed that he avoided using restrooms completely at school, which resulted in a urinary tract infection and that the discrimination led to him having suicidal thoughts.

Grimm sued through ACLU, saying that his rights under Title IX were violated. Title IX bans discrimination in education “on the basis of sex," and he argued that the school was treating him worse than other students because of his sex.

It comes as the Supreme Court left in place a decision that allowed a transgender student to use the bathroom that corresponded to his gender identity, a victory for the LGBTQ community.

"I am glad that my years-long fight to have my school see me for who I am is over. Being forced to use the nurse's room, a private bathroom, and the girl's room was humiliating for me, and having to go to out-of-the-way bathrooms severely interfered with my education," Grimm, now 22, said in a statement.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Virginia school board's appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban, handing a victory not just to Grimm, who fought in court for six years to overturn the ban, but to transgender rights groups nationally.

After learning that the high court refused to hear the board's appeal, Gavin Grimm, now 22, said that his long battle is over. “We won," he tweeted. “Honored to have been part of this victory," he added.

Grimm was a 15-year-old student at Gloucester High School when he was banned from using the boys bathroom. Grimm said that being forced to use the nurse's room, a private bathroom and the girl's restroom was humiliating interfered with his education.

“This is a national conversation because trans people are everywhere and because we have to fight for our rights in like most of the states in our nation still who have not passed affirming policies," Grimm told The Associated Press.

The ACLU represented Grimm in the lawsuit and argued that federal law makes it clear transgender students are protected from discrimination.

David Corrigan, an attorney for the school board, declined to comment on the decision. In its petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, the school board argued that federal laws protect against discrimination based on sex, not gender identity. Because Grimm had not undergone sex-reassignment surgery and still had female genitalia, the board's position had been that he remained anatomically a female.

A U.S. District Court judge and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both ruled that the board's policy violated Title IX, a federal law barring sex-based discrimination in schools that receives federal money. They also found it violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause by prohibiting Grimm from using the same restrooms as other boys.

Paul D. Castillo, an attorney for the LGBT rights group Lambda Legal, said that five states are technically bound by the 4th Circuit decision: Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash

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LGBTQ+ Healthcare Issues

The Dobbs decision, otherwise known as the court case that overturned Roe v. Wade, has resulted in confusing medical situations for many patients. On top of affecting access to abortions for straight, cisgender women, it presents heightened risks for LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole. Flipping the switch on reproductive rights and privacy rights is a far-reaching act that makes quality care harder to find for an already underserved community.

As the fight against the Dobbs decision continues, it’s important to shed light on the full breadth of its impact. We’ll discuss specific ways that the decision can affect LGBTQ+ healthcare and offer strategies for overcoming these challenges.

How the Right to Bodily Privacy Affects LGBTQ+ Healthcare

When the original Roe v. Wade decision was made, the bodily privacy of people across the United States was protected. Now that bodily autonomy is no longer guaranteed, the LGBTQ+ community must brace itself for a potential loss of healthcare rights beyond abortions. This includes services like feminizing and masculinizing hormone therapy (particularly for transgender youth) that conservative lawmakers have been fighting against this year, as well as transition-related procedures. Without privacy, gender-affirming care may be difficult to access without documentation of sex as “proof” of gender.

As essential services for the LGBTQ+ community become more difficult to access, perhaps the most immediate effect we’ll see is eroding trust between healthcare providers and LGBTQ+ patients. When providers aren’t working in the best interest of patients — just like in cases of children and rape victims denied abortions — patients may further avoid preventative care in a community that already faces discrimination in doctor’s offices.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t Just a Women’s Issue

While the Dobbs decision is often framed as a women's issue — specifically, one that affects cisgender women — it impacts the transgender and non-binary community just as much. All people who are capable of carrying a pregnancy to term have lost at least some ability to choose whether or not to give birth in the U.S.

For transgender and non-binary individuals, this decision comes with the added complexity of body dysmorphia. Without abortion rights, pregnant trans men and some non-binary people may be forced to see their bodies change, and be treated as women by healthcare providers and society as a result.

The Dobbs decision also opens up the possibility for government bodies to determine when life begins — and perhaps even to add legal protections for zygotes and embryos. This puts contraceptives at risk, which could make it more difficult to access gender-affirming care while getting the right contraceptives based on sex for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Overturning Reproductive Rights Puts IVF at Risk

Queer couples that dream of having their own children often have limited options beyond adoption. One such option is in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which involves implanting a fertilized egg into a uterus.

While IVF isn’t directly affected by the Dobbs decision, it could fall into a legal gray area depending on when states determine that life begins. Texas, for example, is already barring abortions as early as six weeks. To reduce embryo destruction, which often occurs when patients no longer want more children, limits could be placed on the number of eggs that can be frozen at once.

Any restrictions on IVF will also affect the availability of surrogacy as an option for building a family.

How Can LGBTQ+ Individuals Overcome Healthcare Barriers?

While the Dobbs decision may primarily impact abortion rights today, its potential to worsen LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole is jarring. So how can the community be prepared?

If you’re struggling to find LGBTQ+-friendly providers near you, using telemedicine now can be an incredibly effective way to start developing strong relationships with far-away healthcare professionals. Telemedicine eliminates the barrier of geography and can be especially helpful for accessing inclusive primary care and therapy. Be sure to check if your insurance provider covers telemedicine.

If you’re seriously concerned about healthcare access in your area — especially if the Dobbs decision affects your whole state or you need regular in-person services that may be at risk — it may be time to consider moving now. While not everyone has the privilege to do so, relocating gives you the ability to settle in areas where lawmakers better serve your needs. However, this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, so preparing and making progress on a moving checklist now can help you avoid issues later.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t LGBTQ+-Friendly

The Supreme Court of the United States has proven the power of its conservative majority with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, the effects of the Dobbs decision don’t stop at affecting cisgender women’s abortion rights. In states with bans, it also leads to forced birth for trans men and non-binary individuals. Plus, the Dobbs decision increases the risk of other rights, like hormone therapy and IVF, being taken away.

Taking steps now, whether it’s choosing a virtual provider or considering a move, can help you improve your healthcare situation in the future.