RICHMOND, Va. (WTKR) - The American Civil Liberties Union announced a Virginia school board will be ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in attorney's fees and costs in a transgender discrimination case.
Gavin Grimm, a transgender man and former Gloucester High School student, successfully sued the school board for violating his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
After years of litigation, the Supreme Court declined to review lower court decisions, ruling that the school board's discriminatory restroom policy for transgender students violated Title IX and the Constitution. The school board informed the court Thursday it would pay the entire amount requested in the fee petition.
“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.”
The resolution comes as Hampton Roads school systems vote on adopting a required Virginia Department of Education policy regarding the treatment of transgender students. Newport News School Board members recently voted against adopting the state-mandated policies, while the Portsmouth City School Board voted 5-1 to adopt the policy.
On Thursday, the Gloucester County School Board released a statement saying:
"The insurance provider for the Gloucester County School Board has addressed the Plaintiff’s request for attorney fees and costs resulting from the Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board litigation. The School Board has no further comment on this matter."
Advocates say the Grimm case demonstrates school systems could face expensive lawsuits if they don't accept the state's transgender policy.
"When these school boards actively choose not to adopt these model policies as required by the state, they're really actually opening themselves up to potential lawsuits," said Vee Lamneck, the executive director of Equality Virginia. "It is very costly and a very time intensive risk that the school boards are taking on."