CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey expressed his disappointment Wednesday, April 20, with a federal appeals court ruling, which could force West Virginia schools to admit adolescents into the bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex.
The 2-1 ruling, entered by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, found it discriminatory for the Gloucester County, Virginia, school board to prohibit a transgender student from using the boys’ bathroom.
The lawsuit was brought by a biologically female teenager who identifies as male. A lower court previously rejected the student’s argument, a decision then appealed to a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit.
Attorney General Morrisey had partnered with five states in support of Gloucester County and the lower court’s ruling. This week’s decision, if left intact, sets case law governing West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
“This directly impacts West Virginia,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “This sets federal precedent that could subject schools in West Virginia to lawsuits by self-identifying, transgender students who seek unfettered access to the bathroom, locker room or sports team of his or her choice.”
A friend of the court brief, filed by Attorney General Morrisey and his counterparts credited Gloucester County with going further than current law requires in establishing multiple, single-stall unisex bathrooms to accommodate the student in question.
The coalition also rebutted claims of discrimination by defining the difference between “sex” and “gender.” It contends the student was excluded from the boys’ bathroom not because of any stereotype about appearance, behavior or dress, but because of the student’s biological sex.
In dissent, Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote the majority’s “holding completely tramples on all
universally accepted protections of privacy and safety that are based on the anatomical differences between the sexes.” He further explained the, “unprecedented holding overrules custom, culture, and very demands inherent in human nature for privacy and safety, which the separation of such facilities is designed to protect.”
est Virginia signed the November 2015 brief with officials from Arizona, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina.