Six-year-old Coy Mathis wears dresses to school. Her passport states that she’s female, and her state-issued identification confirms that she is a girl. Like most girls, she wants to use the girls’ restroom at her elementary school. School officials, however, won’t let her.
Coy Mathis is transgendered. While she identifies herself as female, she has the body of a male.
For the first half of the school year, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District allowed Coy to use the girls’ restroom at school. The school has also referred to Coy as a girl, per her parent’s request. However, over winter break, the district decided not to allow Coy to use the girls’ bathroom.
The district has offered Coy the use of the gender-neutral faculty restroom or the restroom in the nurse’s office. Both are accessible to Coy during the school day. While school officials state that they are looking after the well-being of all the students at their school, Coy’s parents are filing a complaint with the state of Colorado.
In making the decision, the district “took into account 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,” attorney W. Kelly Dude said.
“However, I’m certain you can appreciate that 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.”
Coy’s mother, Kathryn Mathis, states that Coy has claimed to be a girl since she learned to talk. “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,” Mathis said. “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.” Coy’s parents are taking legal action by filing a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.
Mathis states that she and her husband were “sad and upset” when they heard that Coy could no longer use the girls’ restroom. They pulled her out of school, and the 6-year-old is currently home-schooled.
“This automatically singles her out and stigmatizes her,” she said. “It sets her up for future harassing and bullying, and creates an unsafe environment. The school has a wonderful opportunity to teach students that differences are OK, and we should embrace their differences, instead of teaching them to discriminate against someone who is a little different.”
Michael Silverman, one of Coy’s lawyers and the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, said that the school needs to make amends.
“Coy’s school has the opportunity to turn this around and teach Coy’s classmates a valuable lesson about friendship, respect and basic fairness,” he stated.
Schools have no national policies regarding treatment of transgendered students, so individual schools are left to decide their own response. Schools must comply with the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which Dude states Coy’s school is doing.
“Coy attends class as all other students, is permitted to wear girls’ clothes, and is referred to as the parents have requested,” Dude stated. The attorney added that Coy also has easy access to other restrooms.
One commenter stated that the school district is in the right: “Everyone has the right to their own opinion … but not to their own reality.”
Do you think that the school district is wrong for making Coy use another restroom?