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Colorado School Officials Decline Mediation in Transgender Restroom Dispute

Tuesday, March, 12, 2013


An issue over bathroom use for a transgender elementary student at Eagleside Elementary School outside of Colorado Springs will not go to mediation, according to the school district.  Coy Mathis, a first grader at the school, identifies as a girl but was born with male genitalia.  The six-year old has been using the girls’ restroom facilities until last year, until the school decided it would no longer allow it. 

According to the explanation provided by the district when it banned Coy from using the girls’ facilities, they “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."  In response, Coy’s parents, Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis, have removed their child from the school to be homeschooled.  

Coy’s parents have also made it clear to the district that if mediation is not an option, they will be forced to file a discrimination charge against the Fountain-Fort Carson School District.  However, according to the district, mediation wasn’t a viable option because the Mathis family had not been willing to discuss "reasonable proposals" to reach a resolution regarding the dispute.  Such proposals offered already by the district, and turned down by Coy’s parents, include allowing Coy to use the gender neutral facilities in the Health Clinic at the school or the employee restrooms.

Michael Silverman, the Mathis’ lawyer and Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fun, stated, “We are shocked that her school will not even meet to talk about this so that Coy can quickly return to school."  He also discussed his intent to continue to pursue the case, even if mediation is denied. 

Mr. and Mrs. Mathis assert that in making the decision to ban Coy from the girls’ facilities, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District violated a Colorado law that states that schools may not deny individuals’ access to public accommodations because of their sexual orientation or transgender status. Additionally, they assert that anti-discrimination regulations are being ignored, particularly those issued by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission requiring schools with transgender students to allow access to "gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity."