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Colorado transgender girl wins equal access to girls' bathrooms at school

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First-of-its-kind decision mandates equal treatment for transgender students

Rich Ferraro
Vice President of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

June 24, 2013

New York, NY, June 24, 2013 – GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, today announced along with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) that the Colorado Civil Rights Division has ruled in favor of six-year-old Coy Mathis, whose school had barred her from using the girls’ bathroom at her elementary school because she is transgender. This is the first ruling in the nation holding that transgender students must be allowed to use bathrooms that match who they are, and the most comprehensive ruling ever supporting the rights of transgender people to access bathrooms without harassment or discrimination.

“Schools should not discriminate against their students, and we are thrilled that Coy can return to school and put this behind her,” said Kathryn Mathis, Coy’s mother. “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.”

“This ruling sends a loud and clear message that transgender students may not be targeted for discrimination and that they must be treated equally in school,” said TLDEF’s executive director Michael Silverman. “It is a victory for Coy and a triumph for fairness.”

"The impact of this ruling should not be limited to Colorado," said GLAAD Spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "No child, no matter where they live, should have their identity denied by their school. And no family in America should have to go to court to convince educators to treat their child with respect."

In a resounding victory for the rights of transgender students, the Colorado Civil Rights Division wrote that Coy’s school had treated her in a manner that was “hostile, intimidating,” and “offensive.” 

Coy was labeled male at birth, but has always known that she is a girl, which she has expressed since she was 18 months old. Since kindergarten, Coy had worn girls’ clothing to school. Her classmates and teachers used female pronouns to refer to her, and she used the girls’ bathrooms, just like any other girl in her school.

In mid-December 2012, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 informed Coy’s parents that Coy would be prevented from using the girls’ bathrooms after winter break. The District ordered Coy to use the boys’ bathroom, a staff bathroom, or the nurse’s bathroom.  

Despite efforts to get the District to reconsider its decision, it refused to do so.  Coy’s parents removed her from school and filed a Complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on Coy’s behalf.   

In addition to TLDEF, the legal team representing the Mathis family included Michael Flynn, Lucy Deakins, Jami Mills Vibbert, and Rosario Doriott Dominguez of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.

Click for high-resolution photos of the Mathis family, which you are free to use without credit.