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Supreme Court steps in to block transgender Virginia teen from using boys' restrooms

The U.S. high court ruled 5-to-3 to deny the boy transgender bathroom access until it fully hears the case.

By Doug G. Ware
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency order Wednesday to prevent a transgender Virginia teenager from using the boys' restrooms in his school -- blocking a lower court's injunction in June that allowed the 17-year-old student to use whichever bathroom fits his gender identity. The high court said it issued the order pending a full hearing on the matter. File Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/72d4e00793e9ab6768a07453d12acac9/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency order Wednesday to prevent a transgender Virginia teenager from using the boys' restrooms in his school -- blocking a lower court's injunction in June that allowed the 17-year-old student to use whichever bathroom fits his gender identity. The high court said it issued the order pending a full hearing on the matter. File Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court surprised some observers Wednesday by stepping in the middle of a bathroom battle involving a transgender teen in Virginia, with an emergency order to keep him out of the boys' room at his high school.

In a 5-to-3 vote, the U.S. high court issued the temporary order to block a lower court's determination in June that 17-year-old Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, has a right to use the boys' restroom.

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On June 23, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia entered an injunction to allow Grimm to use whichever restroom at school that fits his gender identity, largely because that stance is supported by a directive earlier this year from President Barack Obama's administration that asks all states to allow transgender students full restroom freedom at public schools.

RELATED July: Virginia school board asks Supreme Court to block transgender student's use of boys' bathroom

The Supreme Court, however, said it blocked the lower court's injunction Wednesday because it hasn't yet fully heard the case. The emergency order applies to Grimm's case but no others, such as North Carolina's, that have to do with transgender bathroom access.

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Last month, the Virginia school board associated with Grimm's lawsuit petitioned the Supreme Court to block the lower court's injunction.

"Depriving parents of any say over whether their children should be exposed to members of the opposite biological sex, possibly in a state of full or complete undress, in intimate settings deprives parents of their right to direct the education and upbringing of their children," the Gloucester County School Board said in its July 14 petition.

Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that petition will be upheld until it can hear the case.

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"In light of the facts that four Justices have voted to grant the application referred to the Court by the Chief Justice, that we are currently in recess, and that granting a stay will preserve the status quo until the Court considers the forthcoming petition," the high court wrote in its opinion Wednesday.

RELATED June: Federal judge issues injunction allowing Virginia teen access to boys' bathroom

The American Civil Liberties Union reacted to the high court's ruling Wednesday with disappointment.

"We are disappointed that the court has issued a stay and that Gavin will have to begin another school year isolated from his peers and stigmatized by the Gloucester County school board just because he's a boy who is transgender," senior ACLU attorney Joshua Block said in a statement. "We remain hopeful that Gavin will ultimately prevail."

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Voting in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The dissenting justices were Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Obama appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Supreme Court order - Grimm vs Virginia (Aug. 3, 2016)

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