Transgender Kid Banned From Colorado Restroom Prompts Civil Rights Complaint

Thursday, 28 Feb 2013 10:42 AM

By Dale Eisinger

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Coy Mathis may identify with the bathroom signs on the girls' room, but school administrators say the transgender child can't go in.

A 6-year-old first-grader in Fountain, Colo., Coy was born male but identifies as a girl and has been attending the school as a girl since half way through kindergarten.

Since December, after being told by education officials that the girl's bathroom was out of bounds, Coy has been homeschooled.

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Coy's parents, Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis, filed a complaint with the Colorado civil rights agency on Wednesday, challenging the decision to keep Coy out of the facilities, Reuters reported.

Coy used the girls' bathrooms, with the school's knowledge, until late December 2012. That was when school official told the parents that Coy would be restricted to the boys' facilities or to gender-neutral ones, usually reserved for staff members.

Coy is one of a set of triplets and has behaved like a girl since reaching 18 months, ABC news reported. Since Coy enrolled at Eagle Elementary School, teachers and classmates had consistently used female pronouns when referring to the student.

"We were very confused because everything was going so well, and they had been so accepting, and all of a sudden it changed and it was very confusing and very upsetting because we knew that, by doing that, she was going to go back to being unhappy," Kathryn Mathis told CNN. "It was going to set her up for a lot of bad things."

"We want Coy to have the same educational opportunities as every other Colorado student," Kathryn told ABC. "Her school should not be singling her out for mistreatment just because she is transgender."

The family and their legal representatives say restricting the bathroom use is discriminatory and psychologically damaging.

"Forcing Coy to be the only girl in school that has to use a different bathroom from every other student is the equivalent of painting a bull's-eye on her back," Michael Silverman, executive director of New York-based Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund who is representing the case on behalf of the family, told Reuters.

The school released a brief statement Wednesday saying it had treated the Mathis family "fairly and reasonably," but did not go into further detail.

"Since her earliest ability to express herself, she has told the world what would be obvious to anyone who spends a minute with her that she is a little girl," Silverman said.

"Our eye is focused on getting Coy back into school," he said.

A letter from the school's attorney asserted that the school "took into account not only Coy but other students in the building, their parents, and the future impact a boy with male genitals using a girls' bathroom would have as Coy grew older," according to Reuters. The letter also cited legal precedent, saying a similar case in Maine was upheld with a similar decision.

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"...It would be far more psychologically damaging and disruptive for the issue to arise at an age when students deal with social issues," the letter went on, according to ABC.

Related stories:

Massachusetts Establishes Transgender Student Policies

Ore., Calif., Require Transgender Health Coverage

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