(Photo: Courtesy of the Mathis family)
The parents of Coy Mathis, a 6-year-old first grade student in Fountain, Colo., who was born a boy but identifies as a girl, have filed a complaint against the school district because they were told their child had to stop using the girls' bathroom.
Jeremy and Kathryn Mathis received a phone call in December 2012 from Jason Crow, the principal at Eagleside Elementary School, to let them know that, although Coy identifies as a girl, because their child has male sex organs, Coy would be required to use the boys' bathroom when the students returned to school after the winter break.
Crow told the Mathises that Coy would also have the option of using bathrooms designated for special needs or sick students, the nurse's bathroom, or the gender-neutral , single-person restrooms that are used by the school's employees.
Following the phone call from Crow, Kathryn Mathis told The Christian Post that she had an in-person meeting with the principal "to try to find out where this was coming from, since there hadn't been an issue for one year. We wanted to keep everything the same since it was going well."
Coy enrolled in kindergarten at Eagleside Elementary School in August 2011 as a male student, but in December of that same year, the Mathises contacted the school's staff to announce that Coy would complete the rest of the school year as a girl.
In the school district's letter to the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), which filed a complaint last month with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on behalf of Jeremy and Kathryn Mathis, the district explains that Eagleside staff was advised that Coy was not going to be permitted to use the girls' bathroom.
"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," said Kelly Dude, an attorney representing the Fountain-Fort Carson School District No. 8 and Eagleside Elementary School, in a letter to Michael Silverman, the TLDEF attorney representing the Mathis family.
In the letter to TLDEF, Dude emphasizes that Coy was permitted to wear girls clothes to school in both kindergarten and first grade, but added that because the school's bathroom facilities for kindergarten students are gender-neutral, concerns about Coy using the girls' bathroom didn't arise when Coy was a kindergarten student.
Even though Coy would be allowed to use alternative bathroom facilities, according to Mathis, "the adults' bathrooms are located farther away from the first grade classroom than the girls' bathroom that Coy was used to having access to."
Silverman, the Mathises attorney who filed the complaint with the Colorado Office of Civil Rights that alleges a violation of the state's anti-discrimination law, said that: "Coy isn't a boy, and anyone who spends time with her would understand that she is a girl."
"The more parents learn, the less concerned they become about having their children interact with children who are transgender," said Silverman, who believes that transgender rights are an emerging civil rights issue.
"We'll be seeing more and more issues arising in regard to transgender children," he added.
Mathis told The Christian Post that when Coy changed his gender identity from a boy to a girl in the middle of the kindergarten school year, that the teachers and staff were supportive, and that Coy's classmates also accepted the transition.
She said the teachers read books to the students "about how everybody is different, and that being different isn't bad [because] everyone is special," which she said also applied to the special needs students who are enrolled at the elementary school.
Mathis, who's the mother of five children, said that after the school district barred Coy from using the girls' bathroom, she and her husband decided to remove all of their children from Eagleside Elementary, because they don't want their children going to school in a "discriminatory environment." All of their children are now being homeschooled.
Mathis added that she understands parents' concerns about transgender students, "because it's new and scary. But discomfort isn't a reason not to allow it."
Mathis said she first noticed that Coy had an affinity for effeminate things at 18 months, but she and her husband continued to buy clothes and toys made for boys. "Coy was much closer to age 4 when it became more apparent that she liked girl things. Coy then expressed that it wasn't just that she liked girl things, but that she was a girl."
"We had to ask ourselves if we wanted a close relationship with our child," said Mathis, who explained that she and her husband wanted Coy to be happy and secure, opposed to being depressed and withdrawn from the family when forced to dress as a boy.
Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, suggests that if a parent is faced with a situation in which their child is enrolled in a class where a student dresses according to their gender identity, and not the sex at birth, they should teach their child to treat everyone with compassion and respect.
That being said, Sprigg added that parents have the right to file a complaint if they are concerned about their child being exposed to the genitalia of the opposite sex in a private setting, such as a bathroom or locker room.
"Social, psychological, and physical cues about gender are among the first things a child learns in the developmental process," said Sprigg, who agrees with the Colorado school district's decision. "When confusion about sex and sex roles is introduced by a classmate, a school, or society as a whole, it can only disrupt that process. Since God made us male and female, such confusion may cause a child to doubt the goodness of God's created order."
"Unfortunately, LGBT activists have been so successful in establishing ideological hegemony over the professions of psychology, psychiatry and increasingly, all of medicine, that when a child has gender identity problems, it's difficult to find competent counseling to help overcome, rather than solidify, these problems," said Sprigg.
"Essentially, society is being forced to affirm a clear, physical, biological falsehood – the idea that someone with healthy male sex organs and normal male chromosomes can become a female, and vice versa," he said. "We are being told that when there's a conflict between a person's objective biological reality and their subjective feelings, it is the body that needs to be 'fixed.' This is utterly bizarre, and we should not be afraid to say so."