Civil Rights

Top state court says transgender 5th-grader must be allowed to use restroom of choice

  • Print.

A transgender 5th-grader in Maine should have been allowed to use the girls restroom, the state’s top court held Thursday in a 5-1 decision.

The ruling is the first by a top state court recognizing the right of a transgender student to use the facilities for the sex with which he or she identifies, the Associated Press reports.

The Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press-Herald also have stories.

A civil rights suit was filed in 2009 by the family of Nicole Maines and the Maine Human Rights Commission after officials of the elementary school she attended at the time required her to use a staff restroom instead of a student restroom. That conduct by the Orono school district violated the state human rights act, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine held. A GLAD page links to a copy of the decision in the case, which was filed under the pseudonyms of John and Jane Doe, on behalf of Susan Doe.

Originally, the school had allowed Maines, who is now 16, to use the girls’ restroom, but it backed down after the grandfather of a male student complained. A trial court upheld the school district’s position.

“Decisions about how to address students’ legitimate gender identity issues are not to be taken lightly,” said the supreme court majority in its opinion reversing that prior decision. “Where, as here, it has been clearly established that a student’s psychological well-being and educational success depend upon being permitted to use the communal bathroom consistent with her gender identity, denying access to the appropriate bathroom constitutes sexual orientation discrimination.”

See also:

ABA Journal: “A gender change at a tender age”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.