School bars transgender 1st grader from girls restroom
Coy Mathis, left, plays with her sister Auri, 2, at their home in Fountain, Colo., Monday Feb. 25, 2013. Coy has been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder. Biologically, Coy, 6, is a boy, but to his parents, three sisters and brother, family members and the world, Coy is a transgender girl. Ideas about gender-disorders began to develop in the 1950s, and have been evolving ever since, both within the medical community, and in American society. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) (Brennan Linsley)
By Sam Wood, PHILLY.COM
Posted: February 28, 2013
The parents of a transgender first grader filed a civil rights complaint today in Colorado after the child's school barred their daughter from using the girls' lavatory.
Coy Mathis, 6, had attended Eagleside Elementary School south of Colorado Springs since 2011.
The child's parents say Coy was born male but as soon as Coy could talk insisted she was a girl, according to the Denver Post. Coy, who is the first of three triplets, dresses as a girl. Her siblings, fellow students and school staff use female pronouns when referring to her.
That was not sufficient for Fountain-Fort Carson school district officials. In January they ruled that Coy could use any restroom in the school with the exception of the girls' room.
Offered use of the nurse's bathroom, Coy told KDVR.com that it was only for "people who are sick."
Coy's parents, Kathryn and Jeremy, withdrew their child from Eagleside and are home schooling.
At Philadelphia's Mazzoni Center, legal director David Rosenblum said cases similar to Coy's have been popping up nationwide. The Mazzoni Center provides health care and legal advice for many in the city's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
“We are aware of similar situations arising at various schools across the country, and as more people identify as transgender, this issue will become more prevalent," Rosenblum said.
"While it is encouraging that in this particular case the school is respecting the student’s gender identity by using her preferred pronouns, it is unfortunate that they have complicated the issue by not allowing her to use the girls’ restrooms," Rosenblum said, "forcing her parents to take the extraordinary steps of removing her from the school and having to file a lawsuit to rectify the situation.”
School districts in many states, including Colorado, have enacted policies that allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. Sixteen states, including Colorado, have anti-discrimination laws that include protections for transgender people.
Coy's mother, Kathryn Mathis, said she'll continue to fight for Coy until local school officials change their minds.
"It's important for us to talk about this, because a lot of people have been so afraid to be their true selves for so long," Kathryn Mathis told the Post. "They've known from very young children who they are but were afraid to tell. We want to help create a society where it's OK to be who you are."