GLAAD has been working closely with the family of 6-year-old Coy Mathis and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) in asking Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, CO to allow Coy to once again use the girls' restroom at her school. Coy, who is in first grade, used the correct restroom for the previous year. But in mid-December, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 told her parents, Kathryn and Jeremy, that Coy would be prevented from using the girls’ bathrooms after winter break. The District said Coy could only use the boys’ bathroom, a staff bathroom that is used only by adults, or the nurse’s bathroom, which is otherwise used by sick children.
TLDEF today announced that it has filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on behalf of the Mathis family. The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, passed in 2007, prohibits discrimination against transgender students in public schools. Kathryn and Jeremy have removed Coy from school and are home schooling her until a resolution is found that will allow Coy to use the same facilities as other girls.
"It's sad that the Mathis family had to file a civil rights complaint in order for their daughter to be treated equally," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "Especially since the state of Colorado has already spoken in support of children like Coy. The students clearly aren't the only people at this school who need more education."
“We want Coy to have the same educational opportunities as every other Colorado student ,” said Kathryn Mathis, in a statement released by TLDEF. “Her school should not be singling her out for mistreatment just because she is transgender.”
“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. “Coy’s school has the opportunity to turn this around and teach Coy’s classmates a valuable lesson about friendship, respect and basic fairness.”
GLAAD has been working with the media to tell the Mathis family's story, to raise awareness about this discrimination, in the hopes that the school district will do the right thing and rescind their ban on Coy using the correct restroom. Their story will also serve to educate other people about the lives of transgender children, and that education can prevent discrimination like this from happening in other schools. Coy and her family spoke about their experience on Katie this week, alongside several expert and two other inspiring families with trans kids, in an episode entirely focused on transgender young people. The Mathis family has appeared in dozens of other stories already, and is scheduled to be on CNN later this week.