Coy Mathis, a transgender 6-year-old who identifies as a girl, was recently told by administrators at her Colorado school that she can no longer use the ladies’ bathroom. Although Coy has felt like a girl since she could talk, and has been accepted by her classmates and teachers as female, the school feels like it could make other kids and their parents uncomfortable to have a child with opposite-sex genitalia using the same bathroom. They’ve offered her use of the staff bathroom, the nurse’s office restroom or the boys’ room.
Now Coy’s parents have started a petition asking the school to change its policy.
“Coy is a girl,” the petition reads. “She wears girls' clothes, is addressed by everyone at the school using female pronouns, and has been accepted by her classmates and teachers as a girl. But if the school separates her from all her classmates to use the bathroom, they are singling her out for mistreatment, and teaching her classmates that it's okay to discriminate. We want our daughter to have the same educational opportunities as every other Colorado student."
Coy’s parents also filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.
“People identify the penis as if it were an AK-47, thinking it can’t be in the ladies room because it will be a threat to the girls,” says Norman Spack, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children's Hospital in Boston and co-founder of its Gender Management Service Clinic. “But the fact is that the bathroom has stalls, and kids are not going to see.”
Coy is fortunate to be making the transition early, Dr. Spack says, when kids are still relatively open and accepting. But this move by administrators could potentially be a setback for her self-esteem. “The school is showing her that adults don’t protect her,” says Dr. Spack. “Bullying has to do with the leadership of the school, and what degree of tolerance the people in charge have for it. The school could have made her comfortable but they’ve missed their opportunity.”
What do you think: should Coy be allowed to use the girls’ room? Leave a comment.