Posted 6:18 PM 2/27/2013 : Transgender first-grader's bathroom use spurs school discrimination complaint
A six-year-old transgender child from Fountain is making national headlines because her elementary school says she can't use the girl's bathroom anymore.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Mathis family held a press conference to announce the filing of a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division against the Fountain-Fort Carson School District.
"It's a terrible thing that for Coy, at six years old, she's already beginning to experience the kind of discrimination that we're working to stop," said Michael Silverman, Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.
"People around the world are now looking at the Fountain-Fort Carson School District to see what they will do. Will they do the right thing?," Silverman asked.
In September 2011, Coy's parents addressed the issue with Eagleside Elementary School. School officials were accepting of the situation and allowed Coy to use the girl's bathroom and stand in girl's lines. While the school said there were no problems with Coy using the girl's bathroom, they say their concerns lie down the road during middle school and high school.
The school gave her the option of using the bathroom in the teacher's lounge or nurse's office.
Coy was born a boy, but Kathryn Mathis, Coy's mother, says she and her husband first noticed that Coy identified herself as a girl "as soon as she could express herself." She thought Coy was simply a boy who liked girl's things. It never crossed her mind that she was transgender until they took Coy to a doctor and psychiatrist. Kathryn described Coy as depressed and anxious before she was allowed to freely dress and express herself as boy.
"In the end, we just want what's best for Coy. We want her to have all the same opportunities as our other children and we want her to go back to school and be treated equally without discrimination and harassment," Kathryn Mathis said.
There are five children in the Mathis family. Coy is a triplet and has two sisters ages 9 and 2.
On Tuesday, the family appeared on "Katie" to share their story. The case is drawing national attention as it's the first to look at a transgender person's bathroom use under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.
The Fountain-Fort Carson School District released the following statement:
"The parents of Coy Mathis have filed a charge of discrimination with the Colorado division of Civil Rights. They have chosen to publicize this matter by appearing on a nationally televised show with their child, sharing their point of view with national and local media, and holding a public press conference to announce the filing of the charge. The District firmly believes it has acted reasonably and fairly with respect to this issue. However, the District believes the appropriate and proper forum for discussing the issues identified in the charge is through the Division of Civil Rights process. the District is preparing a response to the charge which it will submit to the division. therefore the District will not comment further on this matter out of respect for the process which the parents have initiated."