- The Washington Times - Friday, October 28, 2016

The Supreme Court said Friday said it will decide whether the Obama administration can legally require public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity, taking up the blockbuster issue in a case from Gloucester County, Virginia.

The justices accepted a petition from local school officials, and will review a ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that said the school board is probably violating federal civil rights law with a policy that reserves the boys’ restrooms for “biological” males.

The high court issued a stay in the case in August, saying the school did not have to comply with a court order allowing 17-year-old student Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, to use the boys’ bathroom in high school.

That action by the justices prevented the student from using the boys’ bathroom, and the justices’ decision to hear the case extends the prohibition.

The justices will hear oral arguments and issue a decision by next June.

The administration’s guidance on school bathrooms created a furor in several states, including Texas, where officials vowed to defy the rule. Some state legislatures have passed laws requiring people to use public bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificates.

The Supreme Court has never ruled directly on transgender rights, and it’s the highest-profile case for the justices to hear since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last February.

The court has been operating with a four-to-four split between its conservative and liberal wings, while Senate Republican refuse to hold confirmation hearings for Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the ninth seat.

Education Department regulations say schools can provide separate bathrooms and locker rooms “on the basis of sex.” In January 2015, the department issued guidance requiring schools to treat transgender students in accordance with their gender identity.

North Carolina passed a law in March that required people to use bathrooms that corresponded to their gender at birth in public buildings.

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