A 6-year-old transgender girl in Colorado was granted the right to use the girls’ bathroom at her school, KUSA-TV reported on Sunday.
In the first ruling of its kind in the U.S., the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) ruled in favor of Coy Mathis, who was born a boy but has self-identified as a girl since she was 18 months old. Her parents filed a complaint against her school district in February after administrators decided she had to use either a staff bathroom or the boy’s restroom.
“Schools should not discriminate against their students, and we are thrilled that Coy can return to school and put this behind her,” Coy’s mother, Kathryn Mathis, said in a statement on the website for the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which worked with the family. “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.”
NBC News reported that CCRD director Steven Chavez criticized administrators with the Fountain-Fort Carson School District in his decision, accusing them of creating “an environment rife with harassment” when they referred to Coy as a boy, which broke a prior agreement with her parents to use her preferred gender identification, and using quotation marks when calling her “her” during the complaint process.
According to KMGH-TV, Coy was initially allowed to use the girls’ bathroom at Eagleside Elementary School and classmates and staff referred to her as a girl before the district revoked that access in December 2012, prompting her parents to remove her from the school.
“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,” TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman said in the group’s statement. “It is a victory for Coy and a triumph for fairness.”
The expansion of the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act (PDF) in 2008 mandated that transgender people were not required to “prove” their status before using the bathroom identified with their gender, and protected them from harassment.
Watch KUSA’s report on Coy’s victory, aired Sunday, below.