When I received my "Outstanding Virginia" award early in the month, I stood on the stage next to another honoree - Gavin Grimm, the truly amazing transgender teen from Gloucester County, Virginia. Sadly, Gloucester has proven itself to be a bastion of backwardness and religious extremism that will do little to advance the county economically or socially. In contrast, Grimm, whom I have known for several years now, shows the bravery and willingness to put one's self in the spotlight that is too often missing in today's society. The consequence of such cowardice, as has always been the case, is that cowardice becomes complicity and bad things happen to people. Some of the judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently noted Gavin Grimm's courage and unsought status as a civil rights leader. Here are highlights from the Washington Post:
Federal appeals court judges on Friday hailed the Virginia transgender teen fighting to use the boy’s restroom at his high school as a courageous civil rights leader even as they lamented that the school year would end without a resolution of his case.
The praise for Gavin Grimm came from two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, who could have issued a short, unsigned order but instead chose to post a five-page memo.
The Supreme Court in March put off a ruling in Grimm’s case after the Trump administration revoked federal guidelines that directed schools to allow transgender students to use a bathroom consistent with their gender identity. The high court sent Grimm’s case back to the Richmond-based 4th Circuit. The appeals court earlier had sided with the teen and deferred to the federal guidelines on transgender rights that had been in place under the Obama administration.
The 4th Circuit announced Friday that Grimm’s case against the Gloucester County School Board would not be heard before he is scheduled to graduate. But Judge Andre M. Davis, a senior judge appointed by Barack Obama in 2009, used a separate court order issued the same day to passionately express his support for Grimm’s legal journey and state his dismay that the legal system sometimes lags behind the realities of people’s lives.
Grimm’s case “is about much more than bathrooms. It’s about a boy asking his school to treat him just like any other boy. It’s about protecting the rights of transgender people in public spaces and not forcing them to exist on the margins,” wrote Davis, who was joined by Judge Henry F. Floyd, another Obama appointee.
Davis said Grimm would be remembered alongside of other “brave individuals,” including Dred Scott, Fred Korematsu and Mildred and Richard Loving, who “refused to accept quietly the injustices that were perpetuated against them.”
“Today, hatred, intolerance, and discrimination persist — and are sometimes even promoted,” Davis wrote, referring to Grimm by his initials, G.G.
“But by challenging unjust policies rooted in invidious discrimination, G.G. takes his place among other modern-day human rights leaders who strive to ensure that, one day, equality will prevail, and that the core dignity of every one of our brothers and sisters is respected by lawmakers and others who wield power over their lives.”
An attorney for the school board, David Corrigan, declined to comment on the court’s order.
Grimm, who was on spring break this week, said he was honored to be compared to men and women whose names feature prominently in civil rights fights.