HRC Blog

Colorado Civil Rights Division Rules in Favor of Transgender Student

The state of Colorado has ruled in favor of Coy Mathis, a 6-year-old transgender girl who was blocked from using the girls’ bathroom at school.

Coy was born male but began to identify as a girl at an early age. When Coy began kindergarten, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District agreed to treat her like any other girl. However, at the beginning of first grade, the Mathis family was told Coy would no longer be permitted to use the girls’ bathroom. Instead, she should use the bathroom in the teachers’ lounge or nurse’s office.

Colorado’s civil rights division – which enforces the state’s antidiscrimination laws – concluded that the Fountain-Fort Carson School District needlessly created a situation that would subject Coy to harassment by barring her from use of the girls’ bathroom. The decision reads in part:

“That she must disregard her identity while performing one of the most essential human functions constitutes severe and pervasive treatment, and creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating or offensive.”

Drawing on a growing body of research on transgender development, the ruling stated that “compartmentalizing a child as a boy or a girl solely based on their visible anatomy, is a simplistic approach to a difficult and complex issue.”

The ruling is a groundbreaking victory for transgender equality in schools. Learn more about state-by-state laws regarding bullying and discrimination in schools here. You can find HRC’s Transgender Visibility Guide and other resources here.

Watch the Mathis family’s recent interview with Katie Couric below:

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