Education Law

Family fights for bathroom rights for their transgender grade schooler

A Colorado family is fighting for the right of their transgender daughter to use the girls’ restroom at her grade school in a complaint filed with the state’s civil rights division.

The problem arose when Coy Mathis was 6 years old and in first grade in the Fountain-Fort Carson school district, the New York Times reports. The family had informed the school the prior year that Coy identified as a girl, and she was allowed to use the girls’ restroom. But the next year the school changed course and informed the Mathis family that Coy would have to use a gender neutral restroom.

The complaint relies on the state’s anti-discrimination law expanding protections for transgender people. Colorado is among 16 states that, along with Washington, D.C., have some sort of protections for transgender people, according to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. In many of those states, the protections are extended to schools.

The fund is representing Coy’s parents, Jeremy and Kathryn Mathis. The school district has maintained it acted “reasonably and fairly,” the Times says. A letter from the school’s lawyer had explained the reason for the decision. “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 letter said.

Coy’s father told the Times the new policy didn’t make sense to him. “This is elementary school, and you’re singling out this one kid and saying she has to use a special bathroom?” he tells the Times.

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