A Colorado school district is standing by its decision to have a 6-year-old transgender student, who was born with male genitalia but identifies as a female, barred from using female restrooms at school, in spite of a discrimination complaint filed by the student's parents.
In December 2011, Colorado's Fountain-Fort Carson School District told the parents of Coy Mathis, who identifies with the female gender, that their child would not be allowed to use the girls' restroom upon returning from winter break at Eagleside Elementary School, located in Fountain, Colo.
Rather, Mathis would be allowed to use the boys' bathroom, gender-neutral faculty bathrooms or the nurse's bathroom.
W. Kelly Dude, an attorney representing the school district, reportedly wrote in a letter to the Mathis's attorney that the district "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."
"However, I'm certain you can appreciate that as Coy grows older and his male genitals develop along with the rest of his body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls' restroom," Dude added.
Dude additionally told CNN that the school adheres to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act in all respects, adding that "Coy attends class as all other students, is permitted to wear girls' clothes, and is referred to as the parents have requested."
The district's attorney went on to indicate that there is no state law requiring schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom with the gender to which they identify.
In response to the district's decision, the parents of Coy, Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis, pulled their child out of school and filed a discrimination complaint against the district, arguing that the district was "creating a giant divide and that's a huge loss for the school because they have a really good opportunity for their students."
"They're using it as a way to discriminate instead," Coy's mother told Fox 31 KDRV.com.
Coy is one of four children to Kathryn and Jeremy, and her passport and state-issued license reportedly identify her as a female.
The parents, who reside in Colorado's capitol city of Denver with their family, have reportedly filed the complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.
Attorney Michael Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is representing the 6-year-old and her family, told The Denver Post that this complaint could have a greater impact on the rest of the country.
"This is significant for both Colorado and nationally," said Silverman, who is also the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.
"For Colorado, it is the first test of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act as related to access to bathrooms by transgender students."
"On a national level, as we see more and more transgender people coming out at younger and younger ages, people will be watching what happens in Colorado," Silverman added.
As multiple media outlets point out, there is little uniformity among school district policies in the U.S. regarding transgender students.
For example, in November, a Maine court ruled that the Orono School District did not violate the Maine Human Rights Act by not allowing a transgender student to use the girls' restroom.
On the other hand, the school district located in Denver's neighboring city of Boulder specifically addresses transgender bathroom use, saying that transgender students may use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.