COLORADO: The parents of a 6-year old transgender child went to battle with the school district over the child’s right to use the girls’ bathroom. Coy Mathis was born male, but wears girls’ clothing. Students and staff use female pronouns when referring to her.
For the past year, the first-grader at Eagleside Elementary School has used the girls’ bathroom on campus. But when the school district changed its policy in December, district officials said Coy could no longer use the girls’ bathroom and ordered her to use either the boys’ bathroom, a staff bathroom, or the nurse’s bathroom. In response, the Mathis family declared war and filed a discrimination lawsuit.
‘”By forcing Coy to use a different bathroom than all the other girls, Coy’s school is targeting her for stigma, bullying and harassment,” said Michael Silverman, one of Mathis’ lawyers.
“You see a little girl walk into the boys’ bathroom, that’s setting her up in an unsafe situation. Or you see her having to walk quite a ways from her classroom to the adult staff bathrooms or the nurse’s restroom and you’re singling her out when you do that. You’re creating a stigma that doesn’t need to be created,” said Coy’s mother.’
Coy has always identified herself as a girl. “We started noticing when Coy was about 18 months, as soon as she started expressing herself, she was really expressing that she was a girl. Of course, our thought at the time was that she was a little boy who liked girls’ things. It wasn’t until she started becoming depressed and anxious that we knew there was something else going on and took her to medical professionals, who then, in fact, told us she was transgender,” Kathryn Mathis said.
When Coy was forced to dressed like a boy and forced to cut her hair, she became very anxious and depressed. “We couldn’t get her to leave the house, go the playground, play with friends. She would break down crying. She was so deeply unhappy and a 3-year-old or 4-year-old shouldn’t be that unhappy and that was when we sought professional help.”
When asked if a 6-year-old was too young to know if he could identify himself as a girl, Silverman responded, “People don’t decide who they want to be. People are who they are. And different people come out as transgender at different points in their lives.”
This is the first case to challenge a restriction on a transgender person’s bathroom use under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act.
The school district released a statement last month that said:
“The parents of Coy Mathis have filed a charge of discrimination with the Colorado Division of Civil Rights. They have chosen to publicize this matter by appearing on a nationally televised show with their child, sharing their point of view with national and local media, and holding a public press conference to announce the filing of the charge. The District firmly believes it has acted reasonably and fairly with respect to this issue. However, the District believes the appropriate and proper forum for discussing the issues identified in the charge is through the Division of Civil Rights process. The District is preparing a response to the charge which it will submit to the Division. Therefore, the District will not comment further on this matter out of respect for the process which the parents have initiated.”
The district filed its response two days ahead of the Mar. 17 deadline.
Last month, the family appeared on the “Katie” TV show to talk about their child.
(Source: thedenverchannel.com) (Picture of Coy Mathis, courtesy of the Mathis family and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.)
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