Coy, a six year old Colorado child who is a boy physically, identifies a girl. As one of two boys in a set of triplets, he had been diagnosed with "gender dysphoria" or "gender identity disorder". The parents have tried to support their child by allowing him to live as a girl. The school was ok with this, with one exception, the girl's bathroom.
In kindergarten, the washroom choice wasn't much of an issue since the children used a unisex bathroom. And when Coy entered first grade, the school allowed her to use the girls' bathroom for the fall semester. But her parents say something changed over the winter break.
"We got this phone call from the school that what was currently going on with Coy using the girls' room wasn't going to be allowed to go anymore," Jeremy says.
One can only imagine the reasons this happened.
I don't know about anyone else, but I went to a public school in a NY suburb way back in the dark ages, and I clearly remember kids playing "show and tell" in the bathroom. I can't be the only one. I'm not saying that this has happened with this child, in fact, I am guessing that this child would most likely not want to participate in such an activity. However, I suspect that there was a fear that this could happen either on purpose or inadvertently. The problem with this happening is that it would cause discussions to happen that parents are not ready to have with their kids yet. Notice I didn't say conversations that kids are not ready for.
It could also be that a couple of parents got wind of the fact that coy was not female, but male, and insisted that their little girl not be forced to use the same bathroom. I would dare say that such a parent, right or wrong, would have as much right to demand that their child use a single gender bathroom just as much as Coy's parents do.
Of course I am just conjecturing.
Meanwhile, the parents of the transgendered first grader have become irate, have decided to homeschool, and are suing the school district.
They say that school districts in many states -- including Colorado -- have policies that allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. As well, Colorado has anti-discrimination laws that include protections for transgender people.
The Mathises admit the complaint has led to a lot of media attention for their family and for Coy. While the family has received criticism for subjecting their child to the media spotlight, the Mathises say it's the school district that's to blame.
"The main problem is that she's already been stigmatized by the school. She was forced out of the school and we're trying to hold the school accountable for what they've done," says Kathryn.
This is clearly a difficult issue for all involved, and to be fair to all parents, I only see one solution, which would be near impossible to administer in an existing school: Co-ed bathrooms for everyone, or at least a co-ed bathroom option. For that to happen, I imagine that all bathrooms would have to be rebuilt so that there are independent little bathrooms instead of large bathrooms with stalls, and any child could use any bathroom that was vacant at the time.
In the meanwhile, we are going to have angry and confused parents on both sides of the issue.