Parents sue school district for not allowing 6-yr-old son to use girls restroom
FOUNTAIN, CO, February 28, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A couple in Colorado has sued their local school district for not allowing their six-year-old boy to use the girls’ restroom at his elementary school, because he believes he is a girl.
Coy Mathis was four when his parents decided to let him “socially transition” to living as a girl. The little boy grew his hair long and began wearing girls’ clothing. His family began to refer to him using female pronouns and insisted that everyone in his life do the same.
When Coy first started at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, administrators fully accommodated the Mathises’ requests. But last December, school officials called the first grader’s parents in for a meeting and told them that after winter break, Coy would no longer be allowed to use the girls’ bathrooms. He would have the option to use the boys’, teachers’, or nurse’s facilities.
Coy’s parents, Jeremy and Kathryn Mathis, immediately pulled their children from the school and filed a lawsuit with help from a transgender activist group, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. Their complaint with the Colorado Division of Civil Rights argues that the school violated the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act.
William Kelly Dude, an attorney for the school district, wrote in a letter to the Mathis' attorney that administrators' decision to ban Coy from the girl’s bathroom was intended to address the needs of “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.”
Dude said that the bathroom decision does not violate the state Anti-Discrimination Act because “Coy attends class as all other students, is permitted to wear girls’ clothes, and is referred to as the parents have requested,” and was allowed access to single-user restrooms used by employees or gender-neutral restrooms in the school’s health room, rather than being forced to use the boys’ room.
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That’s not good enough for the Mathises. They worry that treating Coy differently than biological girls might lead to teasing or bullying. According to Kathryn Mathis, having Coy use a private restroom “singles [him] out and stigmatizes [him].”
“The school has a wonderful opportunity to teach students that differences are okay,” Mathis said, “and we should embrace their differences, instead of teaching them to discriminate against someone who is a little different.”
The Mathises have pulled all four of their school-aged children out of the school and have been homeschooling them while they pursue legal action and seek popular support through high-profile media appearances.
Kathryn and Jeremy recently took Coy on Katie Couric’s talk show, along with their lawyer.
Coy, wearing a bright pink floral shirt and a barrette in his fine blond hair, looked anxious and uncomfortable.
He said only that he did not like seeing himself on television.
His parents and attorney spoke for him. Their message was the same as it was at their press conference: Treat Coy just like “every other girl” – even if he’s not a girl.
“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 the Mathises’ attorney, Michael Silverman, who is also executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is based in New York.
“[Coy] is already beginning to experience the kind of discrimination that we’re working to stop,” Silverman said. “We want her to be treated like every other girl at school.”
Coy Mathis’s case is the first-ever legal challenge filed under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act concerning a so-called “transgender” person’s ability to use the restroom of the opposite sex.
Fountain-Fort Carson school district officials maintain they are doing everything they can to accommodate the Mathis family’s wishes while protecting the rights of other students. In a statement, they seemed to suggest it was the Mathises who were exposing Coy to unwanted attention by dragging the child in front of the media.
“The parents of Coy Mathis have filed a charge of discrimination with the Colorado division of Civil Rights,” the statement read. “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.”
The case is making national news as other states wrangle with the impact of “anti-discrimination” laws that include sexual preference and transgender status.
After adding gender identity to its anti-discrimination law just as Colorado has, Massachusetts recently ordered its K-12 public schools to allow self-identified transgender students to use the facilities assigned to their chosen, not biological, sex.
Maryland is also considering adding gender identity to its anti-discrimination law.
At the federal level, the Obama administration's Department of Justice intervened against an Arkansas university for barring a 38-year-old man from using the women’s restrooms.