OK

Some days there just seems to be too many stories to choose from.  We finally have some people speaking out about the purge at OutServe-SLDN which I wrote about yesterday.  But almost nobody was interested in that then and with the Supreme Court about to rule on DOMA, it's probably not any better today.  

Then there is a decision in the case of Coy Mathis, the Colorado 6-year-old transgirl who desires to be acknowledged as a girl as she is growing up and going to school.

And there is a plea of not guilty/self-defense and additional information in the case of the severe beating of Vivian Diego in Hollywood, CA.

Or I could write about the transwoman who was stabbed 40 times in southeastern Washington, DC, in what was apparently neither a random event nor a hate crime, as far as police are concerned.

Well, the last two could go together into one article, I suppose…in a discussion of what really constitutes a hate crime.  Maybe I'll try to write that piece for tomorrow.

The OutServe/SLDN elimination of its transgender leader can possibly also wait for another day.

So the good news out of Colorado appears to be the winner by default…however much it may be overshadowed by the same-sex marriage news coverage.  We're used to that down here at the bottom of the human barrel.

Yesterday the Colorado Division of Civil Rights handed down a 16-page ruling (pdf) in favor of Coy Mathis which it is hoped will allow her to return to school and excel as a girl without facing discrimination.

In kindergarten at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, CO, Coy lined up with the girls when the teacher asked the boys and girls to line up in separate lines and was rebuffed by the teacher.  When told to stand with the boys, Coy broke out in tears.  Her family and the school came to an agreement to recognize Coy as a girl.  The Mathis family reports that at that time, Coy went from being depressed and withdrawn to "blossoming."

But when she was in first grade, Coy's family received word during winter break that Coy would be barred from using the girls' bathroom as she had in kindergarten.  This led to the family filing a civil rights complaint.

Effective June 17 the ruling found that the school district "discriminatorily denied the student full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations in a place of public accommodation due to {her] sex and sexual orientation.

In a separate ruling, Coy was denied "equal treatment based on harassment."  In other words, the civil rights investigator did not feel that the behavior of the school rose to the level of harassment.

Michael Silverman is executive director for the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), which represents Coy.

This is by far the high-water mark for cases dealing with the rights of transgendered people to access bathrooms.

--Michael Silverman

All we ever wanted was for Coy's school to treat her the same as other little girls.

--Kathryn Mathis, Coy's mother

This ruling sends a loud and clear message that transgender students may not be targeted for discrimination and that they must be treated equally in school.

--Michael Silverman

As outlined in the report Coy, who is one of triplets, began nonverbally expressing a female gender identity at the age of 18 months, and began to articulate her gender identity between the ages 4 and 6 years of age.

In kindergarten Coy

began exhibiting strong and persistent female characteristics, demonstrated by [her] insistence on her feminine identity, preference for wearing firls' clothes, choosing girl playmates, refusal to wear boys' clothes, and participation in traditional female roles and activities.
This was acknowledged by her parents and her kindergarten teacher.  Moreover, the refusal by her parents or her teacher or school staff to accept her femininity caused a huge disruption in Coy's life.  She became depressed to the point that it disrupted her ability to learn because of the anxiety she was experiencing.  She began to refuse to leave the house.

Teacher Cara Price recounted the incident in which the music teacher, Loren Martinez, required the students to line up by gender and publicly corrected Coy when she lined up with the girls.

Coy was distressed when she returned home that day.

Not even my teachers know I'm a girl!
A meeting was held to determine how to proceed.  According to evidence the teachers and staff were to address Coy by feminine pronouns and she would use the girls' restrooms, dress as a girl and have her feminine gender expression accommodated.  The Mathises suggested that the school contact Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA) as a resource, but that was rebuffed.  Coy's fellow students were simply told that Coy was now a girl.  One or two students questioned that at first, but when the teacher made it clear that Coy was a girl, the questioning ceased.

In first grade, however, Principal Crow contacted an assistant superintendent about the restroom issue, which led to the District Superintendent being involved, along with other DIstrict officials.  That group met, without the Mathis family, to decide Coy's fate…and decided to bar Coy from the girls' restroom.  Principle Crow presented the District with a brochure on the new law covering discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which seemed to contradict the District's position.

Coy's first grade teacher was not told Coy was transgender until one or two days before the school year was to begin.  Coy was allowed to continue using the girl's restroom. Then in November of 2012 the district's Director of Exceptional Student Services became aware that Coy was using the girls' restrooms and she tattled to the District Superintendent.  From that point on, Coy was no longer to use the girl's restroom.  The Mathises resisted this order.

Then Coy was withdrawn from the school when the school was unwilling to reconsider its decision.

Basically the school's argument is that bodily waste functions should be segregated by sex as recorded on the birth certificate.  Coy and her family claim that she is recognized as a girl medically, legally, and socially.  Coy has a US passport and a state identification card on both of which she is listed as female.

The Charging Party further counters that the option to segregate restrooms on the basis of sex is not a presumptive right to bar the Charging Party from using the restroom consistent with her gender identity, particularly since the Commission added a portion in the Rules specifically addressing the right of transgender persons to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity.
The school district then asked for additional information:  proof that Coy was intersex.  Apparently its position was that only intersex children could get the treatment Coy was requesting.

 The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ultimately turned to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act of 2008, which is designed "to contribute to the elimination of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, inclusive of transgender status, in employment, housing, public accommodations, and advertising."  There we find that Rule 81.11(A) states that "[N]othing in the Act prohibits segregation on the basis of gender."  But Rule 81.11(B) states, "[A]ll covered entities shall allow individuals the use of gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity.  Gender-segregated facilities include, but are not limited to, restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and dormitories."

The school countered with the issue of "safety," reasoning that separating the restrooms on the basis of sex will cause less harassment of transgender students.  This is an amazingly stupid position.  

The Commission agreed that it is the responsibility of the District to protect the transgender student, but does not agree that the restriction of transgender students from gender-appropriate restrooms accomplishes this task.

The District then adopted the fallback position of "What-If Scenarios."  What iof an older student with a deep voice and chest hair and physically mature sex organs chose to use the girls' restroom.

It always comes down to that, doesn't it?  What if some no-transgender person does something bad?  

Coy's family responded that that the District should not be permitted to violate her rights merely for the comfort of other students and their parents or due to the hypothetical fears of the District.

Evidence as is showed that only one parent complained to Coy's restroom usage, and that parent is no longer in the district.  The parent mentioned did not actually complain about Coy's restroom usage, but rather about Coy's moral upbringing.  School officials admitted that parent had, in fact, apologized for the comments made at a later date.

This is huge for Coy and every transgender child throughout the state.  We told her and she was completely thrilled.  Her eyes got all bright and she jumped up and down and said 'So, this means I can go to school and make friends again.

--Kathryn Mathis

There is video here.

Coy is going to attend a different school.  The family has since moved to Denver.

Schools should not discriminate against their students, and we are thrilled that Coy can return to school and put this behind her.  All we ever wanted was for Coy’s school to treat her the same as other little girls. We are extremely happy that she now will be treated equally.

--Kathryn Mathis

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