The Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled earlier this week that a 6-year-old transgender girl must be allowed to use the girls’ bathroom in her school.
This is being hailed as monumental in the struggle for transgender rights.
“This is a watershed moment for transgender civil rights,” said Michael Silverman, the lawyer for Coy Mathis, 6, and the executive director of TLDEF.
“We’ve said from the start that Coy deserves the same respect, dignity, and opportunity that every other student deserves,” he continued.
TLDEF, or Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, got involved after a discrimination complaint was filed in February by Mathis’ parents.
Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis took action against the Eagleside Elementary School's Fountain-Fort Carson School District for its treatment of Coy.
Although Mathis, who was born a boy, had been deemed transgender by a psychologist at age 4, the school had barred her from using the girls’ restroom.
Instead, it offered her use of the nurse’s or teachers’ bathrooms.
But setting her apart in that way, her family contended, was sure to set her up for harassment and bullying, and they began homeschooling her.
The school district, meanwhile, believed that it had “acted reasonably and fairly,” said its lawyer, William Kelly Dude, in a statement at the time.
That position was basically reiterated Monday after the ruling in a new statement from the school district that Dude provided to Yahoo Shine.
"We're disappointed with this opinion because it not only failed to address conflicts between statutory and regulatory provisions raised by the district but failed to appreciate the unique circumstances that school districts must consider when faced with such situations."
"The district is conferring with legal representation to determine next steps in this process."
The Civil Rights Division sided with Mathis' family.
Director Steven Chavez wrote that the school, in its separating out of Mathis, “demonstrates a lack of understanding of the complexity of transgender issues.”
Also, he said, it “creates a barrier where none should exist.”
“Telling [Mathis] that she must disregard her identity while performing one of the most essential human functions constitutes severe and pervasive treatment."
In doing so, intentionally or not, this "creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating or offensive,” he wrote.
Silverman called this “the most strongly worded, positive decision” in regards to the issue, while Kathryn expressed her relief over the decision in a statement.
“Schools should not discriminate against their students, and we are thrilled that Coy can return to school and put this behind her,” she said.
“All we ever wanted was for Coy’s school to treat her the same as other little girls. We are extremely happy that she now will be treated equally.”
When Kathryn told Coy about the decision, she told the Gazette of Colorado Springs, “her eyes got all bright and she jumped up and down."
"She said, 'So, this means I can go to school and make friends again.'"