The family’s attorney has said this case is “intended to have an impact beyond a single family or school.”
On Wednesday, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced that it had filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division against Eagleside Elementary School and the Fountain-Fort Carson School District on behalf of Coy Mathis, a transgender first-grader who, up until December, was using the girls’ restroom at school. Coy was born with male genitalia, but according to her mother Kathryn Mathis “has identified as female since she could express herself.” Kathryn told CNN that she and her husband were “shocked” when they received a phone call in December to inform them that Coy could, “use the boys’ bathroom, gender-neutral faculty bathrooms or the nurse’s bathroom, but not the girls’ facilities.” She said, “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, [Coy] was going to go back to being unhappy. It was going to set her up for a lot of bad things.”
All throughout Coy’s kindergarten year she had identified as a girl and used the girls’ bathroom with “no problems and no complaints from anyone at the school.” In fact, both her state-issued ID and her passport list her as female. The school district however does not. The districts attorney, W. Kelly Dude said in a statement,
[The district] 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. However, I’m certain you can appreciate that, as Coy grows older and his male genitals develop along with the rest of his body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls’ restroom … 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.
Dude also points out that the Fountain-Fort Carson School District has not violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. He said, “Coy attends class as all other students, is permitted to wear girls’ clothes and is referred to as the parents have requested.” He also adds that there is currently no legislation in the state of Colorado that requires public schools to allow transgender students “to use restrooms intended for the gender with which they identify.”
The Mathis’ have pulled Coy out of Eagleside and are currently homeschooling her. They were concerned about the attention this would bring and worried that it would make her a target for bullying. Kathryn said, “In the end, we just want what is the best for Coy. We want her to be able to go back to school and be treated equally without discrimination and harassment.” According to Michael Silverman, the attorney from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund who is representing Coy, this will be the first case that challenges a “restroom restriction” under Colorado’s anti-discrimination act.
Photo: Robert Scoble/Flickr