ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Transgender rights advocates call the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case of a transgender teen, Gavin Grimm, a major setback. On Monday, the Supreme Court sent the Virginia student's case back to a lower court without reaching a decision.
Grimm was in the process of challenging the policy that said he could not use the bathroom matching his gender identity at Gloucester High School. Grimm's case sparked a national conversation about transgender rights. Advocates say they are disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision.
"A lot of the folks in the community are scared. They see this as an opportunity to have their rights taken away," said Dolly Davis, a transgender advocate.
Although Title IX hasn't changed and there are still anti-discrimination laws on the books, Davis said leaving the issue uto the lower court is a setback in the fight for the rights of transgender people in public spaces.
"I don't think it is right to take one person's rights away for the outside chance that someone may use those rights to hurt someone else," said Davis. "That's what they are doing. They are using fear to say that someone may go into the bathroom preying upon someone else."
Some say the case is about common sense. Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall previously proposed a state law requiring people to use places like restrooms associated with their biological sex.
"Look, biological males should go to boys' room, biological girls should go to the girls' room,' said Marshall.
Marshall said he believes school districts should follow the steps of some Virginia localities by having separate bathrooms for transgender students.
"Accommodation that Prince William schools make, they have a transgender student, they use the bathroom or changing area for themselves," he said. "You don't force your subjective understanding of what you are or what you think you are on everyone else."
Davis said a decision in favor of Grimm will be a move in the right direction for transgender rights.
"Liberty and justice for all is really what this country is all about and it needs to be reflected in all laws and actions," said Davis.
"Just because everyone is equal doesn't mean you treat everyone identically" said Marshall.
It will now be up to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to make a decision on the case of Gloucester County School Board v. G. G.
In the meantime, Dolly Davis hopes to have roundtable discussions in Southwest Virginia to help people learn more about the transgender community.