Colorado Parents Sue To Have Their Six-Year-Old Transgender Student Use School’s Female Bathrooms

20130226__coymathis~p1_200There is an interesting case of parents suing the public school in Fountain, Colorado for failing to accommodate their transgender child. These lawsuits have become more common, but in this case the school is the Eagleside Elementary School and the child is just 6 years old. Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis insist that their child, Coy Mathis, was born a boy but identifies as a girl and wants to use the girls’ restroom.

The case raises the question of when a child should be deemed to be transgender. The Mathis’s insist that Coy decided that he was a she before age 6. As the father of four, I am surprised that such a determination could be made at such an early age. The parents say that they were aware of the gender identity since Coy was a baby and, before kindergarten. As a toddler, they say that she indicated that there was “something wrong” with her body and the parents took the pre-schooler to a specialist, who diagnosed gender identity disorder. The specialist told the parents to start dressing Coy as a girl. Since kindergarten, she has dressed as a girl.

The school did accommodate Coy in referring to her with female pronouns and she wears girls’ clothing. However, they asked Coy to use the boys’ restroom, the staff’s restroom or the bathroom in the school nurse’s office.

There is no clear rule on this issue. Just ask the dude from the school district. Wm. Kelly Dude insists that the public schools are not required to allow transgender students to use the restrooms of their choice at any age. That position would put transgender rights squarely before a court. The alternative would be for the school to focus on the fact that this is just a six year old child. The school is also in a jurisdiction with a long history of accommodating gender identity. Boulder’s guidelines specifically address restroom accessibility, stating that “students shall have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity consistently asserted at school.”

The school district wrote a letter to the parents saying “The district’s decision 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.”

Given the accommodation on the alternative bathrooms and the age of the student, this could prove an important case in drawing lines for school districts around the country. What do you think?

Source: Denver Post

34 thoughts on “Colorado Parents Sue To Have Their Six-Year-Old Transgender Student Use School’s Female Bathrooms”

  1. “Kathryn and Jeremy, a full-time student and disabled veteran, have four other children, including a set of triplets, one of which is Coy.”

    When this decision is made at such a young age, I think it is reasonable to wonder if the parents or others unduly influenced the child.

    However, in this case the child is one of triplets. The other siblings, apparently, are having a more conventional childhoods – which would indicate that the parents have done a good job of dealing with a child with special needs.

    At this point I just do not see any villains in the story – just a lot of adults trying to work their way through a situation that we have not given much consideration to in the past.

  2. Frankly, Individuals with an extra Y-chromosome are not more violent. The idea that they were resulted from some poorly done research doneonly in prison. Yes, those with an extra Y do tend to be bigger and stronger, which also tends to make them more likely to be the object of or involved in fights. There are many men who happen to have an extra Y who do not show up in prison populations or demonstrate violence.

  3. Raff,

    If I were a protective caseworker I’d file a petition for a GAL to assist in the procedure…. Seems that this is one hell of a decision for a 6 year old to make…. Not that all psychiatric MDs are not quacks… But a number of them are….

  4. AY,
    I understand your concern about how early the decision was “made”, but the parents did consult an expert and as Frankly suggested earlier, there are many physical reasons this can occur. I would think a reasonable accomodation of a multi-gender bathroom might work, but I don’t know how that would impact the child if he is not allowed to be the gender that he needs to be.

  5. Has anyone considered that the state could bring child endangerment charges against the parents for this type of decision?

    Seems a little too young in my mind to be capable to make a hard decision like this. Are we at the stage where a MTF is capable of being performed…. Crazy…

  6. This child is a girl. She is called a feminine name, feminine pronoun, feminine dress. Putting a girl in the boys bathroom is NOT a good idea when the bathrooms are segregated. The bathrooms all have stalls. She undoubtedly sits for all functions. What’s the big deal?

    When I was in school, the locker room had stalls that allowed for some privacy. This school has plenty of time to insure that privacy stalls are available in both the girls and boys locker rooms.

  7. I’m with the school district. As long as we’re segregating bathrooms, then doing it by anatomy makes sense considering the interests of everyone involved. The school district offers a reasonable accommodation of letting Coy use faculty restrooms.

  8. Are the parents right in their perception?

    This could be a spot on healthy environment for the youngster, or not.
    I know that social rules and mores are guides for healthy development of our youth. I know there are exceptions.

    I fear (predict) that the “protectors” of social norms will feel threatened by this choice. It will be the reactions of the folks in this youngsters environment that will create the most ill health in his/her development.

    We, the human race, have far to go, and much to learn.

  9. One small nit – Fountain is south of Colorado Springs. (Think many hard-right fundamentalists groups.) It’s near military bases. Boulder is north-west of Denver and home to the University of Colorado and numerous tech startups.

    That said I’ve never figured out the school districts here and it’s possible that Fountain is in a “Boulder School District”. But it has no connection to the city of Boulder. I also don’t know what the philosophy of the school district is – the Colorado Springs area used to be fairly liberal.

    On the bigger point I find it interesting that virtually nobody is considering the interests of the other children. As the guy said the issue isn’t just what to do about a 6 year old going to the bathroom, it’s what happens when she’s older and in a PE class.

  10. Mike Spindell:

    A stopped clock is not right, it is broken. The time it shows is not an indication of real time but of a coincidence of it having broken at a particular time.

    If you dont believe me, use it to set the time for an important meeting. Or use another stopped watch to verify the time of the first watch.

  11. To expand on Mike Spindell’s very intelligent comment about sex and puritans I offer the following:

    “The doctrine that man’s sexual capacity belongs to a lower or animal part of his nature . . . is the necessary consequence of the doctrine that man is not an integrated entity, but a being torn apart by two opposite, antagonistic, irreconcilable elements: his body, which is of this earth, and his soul, which is of another, supernatural realm. According to that doctrine, man’s sexual capacity—regardless of how it is exercised or motivated, not merely its abuses, not unfastidious indulgence or promiscuity, but the capacity as such—is sinful or depraved.”

    Ayn Rand
    The Voice of Reason pg 47

    1. “The doctrine that man’s sexual capacity belongs to a lower or animal part of his nature . . . is the necessary consequence of the doctrine that man is not an integrated entity,”


      Like a stopped clock Ayn is right once in a while. Whether there is a “mind/body dualism is a conception that goes back at least to Plato. The argument has biblical undertones in that there was a conception of humans “purer” versus “baser” instincts. In Genesis Adam is considered “pure” until
      Eve seduces him into eating the apple, egged on by the Snake who represents the Devil. As an existentialist I consider the whole mind/body concept as absurd. The Existentialist perspective see us as an “organism”, a whole, where there is o separation in living between our organs.The concept of sexuality being somehow an impure function, is insanity.

  12. BFM,

    Nailed the issue. Forget the specifics and focus on the fact that the whole matter of sexuality is viewed in this country and many places around the world from a puritan point of view. The long term insanity of humanity comes from those who would make human sexuality into a moral issue. It is insane because that is how our species continues itself. The “moral” pygmies who made sex a sin because of their own sexual insecurites have cursed us. We live in an age where the biggest problems of sexuality, one of the most universal of human pleasures, are solved via science. Yet because of this puritan strain we make the natural into the dirty.

    One of those problems of sexuality that can be dealt with by swcience ad medicine is that of transgendered humans. Rather tha dealing with it rationally as just something of the wide prism of human sexuality, we view it from such childish puritan eyes as who uses what bathroom. Pathetic.

  13. Smaller preschools throughout the country have one multiple stall bathroom and do not send the children to the bathroom by gender. Around here, we have preschool programs with children as old as 5, so I imagine it’s the same in other areas of the country. I think it would upset more PARENTS than children to have her use the “girls” bathroom. Youngsters aren’t so caught up in the same issues as adults. There’s a lot to be said for that.


    maybe the way to cut down on teenage pregnancy is to let boys and girls use the same bathrooms.

    1. If ignorance of basic human biology is a contributing factor in teen pregnancy then you have a strong argument.

  15. “Many seem to believe that it is reasonable and appropriate to separate males and females during the time and process of personal bodily functions.”

    And BFM cuts to the heart of the matter – social convention versus biological and psychological reality.

  16. Let her piss in the principal’s restroom. Why call it a restroom? Do people go in there to “rest”. Why call a pee room a “bathroom” when no one takes baths? Lets have three pee and poop rooms: boy pee, girl pee, not me pee. That settles it, go back to class, go back to grading dumbed down exams, go back to being a “pal”, mister principal. I can see why people home school their kids. One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.

  17. “The case raises the question of when a child should be deemed to be transgender.”

    I am sure bigots will seize on this case.

    But it seems to me that there is a fundamental question, or perhaps two, at the heart of this case.

    Clearly the self view, the gender, of student is one important aspect of the case.

    But there is still the question of whether is is reasonable to separate the sexes – not gender – when it comes to bodily functions.

    Many seem to believe that it is reasonable and appropriate to separate males and females during the time and process of personal bodily functions.

    If you agree with that point of view then the self identity – the gender – of the individual makes little or no difference.

    I would argue that this is not a simple case and that it extends beyond issues of bigotry or prejudice.

    What exactly is the approach that protects both those who are differently gendered and those who feel there is a legitimate reason to separate the sexes for bodily functions?

  18. I have a good friend who was a pediatrician and about 20 years ago she sent me on a mission to educate myself by telling me of the number of children who are either in the wrong body or whos gender is not easily determined by examining genitalia.

    It started at a party where a I commented on the size of a neighbor’s 7-8 year old son (he was by far the tallest in his class and muscular). The guy told us that his son had an extra Y chromosome, a condition that causes hyper-masculinity. He would be big and strong, there is also a propensity for violence (extra Ys are way over represented in prison). Most of us had never heard of such a thing & thats where the ped spilled the beans about how boy/girl is not such a black and white thing many times.

    I started reading about various conditions, aneuploidy being just one, the more familiar hermaphrodite (sometimes called dichogamy) and several other conditions that can shatter the whole concept of how do you define gender. There is a stunning array of things that make gender difficult for a small but significant portion of society. Many of these people live in the shadows because of societies inability to understand or accept.

    I have no idea how the people involved in this case came to the conclusion that a child with male plumbing did not want to be a boy but I have no doubt it is possible & her life is going to be difficult no matter what.

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