A six-year-old boy who 'identifies' as female has been banned from using the girls' lavatories at his school, prompting his parents to remove him and educate him at home.
Coy Mathis's mum and dad have filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division after staff at Eagleside Elementary School said he could not use the girls' restroom.
In a similar case last November, a male student from Maine, who thought of himself as female, took action under the Maine Human Rights Act when he too was banned from the girls' facilities. In that case, the state court ruled that the school district did not violate a transgender student's rights.
At school Coy Mathis wears girls' clothes and is referred to by staff and fellow pupils as 'she'. Despite this, it was decided by school administrators that Coy should use the boys' toilets, the staff restroom or the one in the school nurse's office, and not the girls'.
The family is being supported by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, who are representing them in their action against the school.
"This is significant for both Colorado and nationally," said the organisation's executive director, Michael Silverman. "For Colorado, it is the first test of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act as related to access to bathrooms by transgender students.
"On a national level, as we see more and more transgender people coming out at younger and younger ages, people will be watching what happens in Colorado."
However, the school's legal representative, district attorney, W Kelly Dude, told The Daily Tribune there are no Colorado cases requiring public schools to permit transgender students to use restrooms of the gender with which they identify.
He wrote to David Silverman in December to say that the decision was based on the interests of other pupils and 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.'
The attorney also pointed out that the school district was complying with the state Anti-Discrimination Act on the grounds that 'Coy attends class as all other students, is permitted to wear girls' clothes and is referred to as the parents have requested' and that he was allowed granted access to 'single-user restrooms used by employees or gender-neutral restrooms in the school's health room'.
Coy's parents, Kathryn and Jeremy, have now chosen to home-school their child until the loo situation is sorted out.
His mum told CNN that the toilet ban had come 'out of the blue' in a phone call after the Christmas holidays, and that she was fighting the decision for Coy, and other children like him.
"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," Kathryn 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."
According to his parents, Coy, who is one of triplets, insisted he was a girl and not a boy from the moment he learned to talk. His mum said the school's decision had been very upsetting for Coy and the family as a whole.
"This automatically singles her out and stigmatizes her," Kathryn Mathis 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."
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