State finds school discriminated against transgender child Coy Mathis in bathroom use

DENVER - Activists are celebrating a state ruling that a 6-year-old child who was born a boy, but identifies as a girl, can use the girl's bathroom at school.

"Colorado has shown, once again, that it completely supports the equal rights of the transgender community," said Krista Whipple with the Gender Identity Center of Colorado. "We can now tell our children they don’t have to be afraid of who they are when they go to school."

Coy Mathis was labeled male at birth, but Coy's parents say Coy has expressed herself as a girl since she was 18 months old.

Coy wore girls' clothing to school, her classmates and teachers at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain used female pronouns to refer to her, and she used the girls' bathrooms until the school informed Coy's parents in December 2012 that Coy would be prevented from using the girls' bathrooms after winter break.

The school district ordered Coy to use the boys' bathroom, a staff bathroom, or the nurse's bathroom.

Coy's parents removed her from school and filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on Coy's behalf in February.

On Sunday, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund announced that the state ruled in favor of Coy and found that her school had discriminated against her.

"It’s a high water mark for transgender rights," said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. "By denying Coy the right to use the little girl's restroom like all the other little girls at school, it had created an environment that was hostile, discriminatory and unsafe."

"Schools should not discriminate against their students," said Coy's mother, Kathryn Mathis, during a Monday afternoon news conference. "We're very thrilled that Coy is able to return to school and have the same rights that all the other girls have."

Coy will not be returning to Eagleside Elementary School because her family has moved to the Denver area because Coy's sister has medical needs.

The Mathis' family did not say what school Coy is going to attend in the fall. However, Kathryn Mathis said they plan to meet with the school and encourage them to develop a policy before Coy starts class.

Silverman said he hopes her old school will not appeal the decision.

"If they choose to continue this fight, it's apparent that they are doing it just because they want to pick a fight with the transgender community in Colorado," said Silverman. "We want this case to end here. Coy is going back to school, at a new school, where she can make new friends and get on with her life."

Silverman said if the school chooses to appeal, there are several levels of appeal available.

The school district said it is still is disappointed with the decision and is determining its next move.

"The District feels it carefully considered the best interest of all children in the District, including Coy, when making its decision and believes that its option of permitting Coy the use of any of three single-user, gender-neutral bathrooms on the same floor as the first grade classroom was a reasonable compromise which the family refused to consider," officials with Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 said in a statement sent to 7NEWS.

 

Calls to the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the school district have not yet been returned.