By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com February 27 2013 3:52 PM ET
A family in Colorado has filed a complaint against the Fountain-Fort Carson school district, alleging a school discriminated against a six-year-old transgender girl when she was forbidden from using the girl's bathroom after a year of doing so.
Coy Mathis is a first-grader enrolled at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, Colo., a suburb of Colorado Springs. Although Coy was assigned male at birth, her parents say she has identified as a female since she was 18 months old. Coy dresses in girl's clothing, and teachers, classmates, and her family use female pronouns to refer to her.
For the past year, Coy has been using the girls' bathroom at Eagleside. But in mid-December 2012, the school district informed Coy's parents, Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis, that their daughter would no longer be allowed to use the girl's restroom, according to a press release from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the organization representing the Mathis family. The school District ordered that Coy instead use the boy's bathroom, a staff bathroom, or a single-stall restroom in the nurse's office.
The Mathis' removed their daughter from the school, and have since been homeschooling her, according to TLDEF.
"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, TLDEF’s executive director, and one of Coy’s lawyers, in a statement announcing the lawsuit. "Through the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, Coloradans have made it clear that they want all Colorado children to have a fair and equal chance in school," he added. "Coy’s school has the opportunity to turn this around and teach Coy’s classmates a valuable lesson about friendship, respect and basic fairness."
Colorado has an expansive antidiscrimination act that has included protections against discrimination based on gender identity since 2008. The formal complaint, filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, will be the first test of Colorado's antidiscrimination protections for trans youth, TLDEF asserts.
"We want Coy to have the same educational opportunities as every other Colorado student," said Coy's mother, Kathryn Mathis, in a release. "Her school should not be singling her out for mistreatment just because she is transgender."