Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Three Cheers for Gavin Grimm and His Mother - Education Law Prof Blog

Education Law Prof Blog:

Three Cheers for Gavin Grimm and His Mother


A new story at the Daily Beast tells Gavin Grimm's story in a way that no other I have seen thus far does.  It is not really about the legal issues, but about the personal journey of Gavin and his mother to stand up.  It is about her evolution and Gavin finding his own mature and civil voice while controversy swirls around them:
“He’s supposed to be thinking about senior skip day,” she told The Daily Beast. “That’s not what he’s thinking about. He’s thinking, ‘I’m going to the Supreme Court so they can discuss my genitals and bathroom use some more.’"
It is a surreal position for a mother to be in, which makes Deirdre’s grace under fire even more otherworldly. The hostility directed at her son used to get under her skin. (“I would hear these nasty comments and it would make me mad and I would want to lash back out at these people,” Deirdre said.)
But now, she’s trying to follow Gavin’s advice: Ignore the blatant opponents of transgender equality and “set a positive example and educate in a positive way” for everyone else instead.
. . .

Taking the high road is a strategy that Deirdre says she learned from Gavin who, at that fateful December 2014 school board meeting, countered his adult critics with a heartfelt plea that could go down in the history books: “I’m just a human. I’m just a boy. Please consider my rights when you make your decision.”
Education law cases pose a different set of ethical and personal issues than most other cases.  A few years ago, a mother told me the story of her daughter's long term suspension from public school and assignment to alternative school.  I told her that the facts, as she relayed them to me, were the ones that I had been imaging for some time.   They did not involve dramatic events, but simply ostracizing a high-achieving student for everyday misbehavior--misbehavior that students cannot really resist because it is part of growing up and being social.  These facts drove to the forefront the irrationality of zero tolerance.  I saw them as a vehicle through which I believed a lower court, and potentially the Supreme Court, could put teeth to a substantive due process review of school discipline.  
I told the mother all of that.  I also told her that filing this lawsuit might not be something she wanted to do.  Her Education Law Prof Blog:


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