With tech ready to go to bat, Supreme Court puts off transgender rights case

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it would vacate a lower court’s ruling in the case of Gavin Grimm, sending what was to be a landmark case on transgender rights back to the drawing board.

The previous decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew on Obama-era guidance from the Department of Education stating that schools should treat transgender students in a way “consistent with their gender identity.” Because that same guidance was rescinded in late February — prompting a strong outcry from the tech community — the Supreme Court wishes for a lower court to first re-assess that decision.

As the case neared the highest court in the land, a number of tech companies seized the moment to articulate their support for the transgender rights movement, a social issue that businesses appear increasingly willing to address. While transgender rights aren’t yet having their marriage equality moment, nearly all of tech’s biggest players have either signed on or otherwise weighed in on the issue, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter. In Grimm’s case, that took the form of an amicus brief filed on behalf of 54 tech companies last week.

Grimm, a transgender student in Virginia who was denied access to the boy’s restroom, has already become something of an icon in the struggle for trans rights. The Supreme Court was set to hear his case against Virginia’s Gloucester County School Board at the end of March. Depending on what is decided in the lower court, the case could make its way back up to the Supreme Court again, but that won’t be happening this term.