COLORADO SPRINGS - A 6-year-old transgendered student in Fountain, Colo. is at the center of a civil-rights controversy.
The parents of the first grader say their child is being discriminated against at school, and they plan to take legal action against the school. The parents held a news conference Wednesday to tell their story.
Coy was born a boy but lives life as a girl.
"When she was about 18 months old and started to talk, as soon as she was able to, it was that she was a girl, and she liked girl things," her mother, Kathryn Mathis, said. "She wasn't happy as a boy, and when she was able to be a girl she blossomed and flourished."
Coy is now in first grade, but for the time being no longer attends Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain. Her parents pulled Coy out after the school notified them over the winter break that the child would no longer be allowed to go to the girl's restroom.
The letter read in part: "Coy was born a male and at least some of the parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls' restroom."
Coy's parents say the school became an unsafe environment for her and one that set her up for harassment and bullying. Coy is now home schooled.
When asked for comments, most neighbors were uninterested in talking, but one mom says she admires Coy's parents for sticking up for their child. Ultimately, however, the mom agrees with the school.
"From a parental standpoint, I think that the school district did the right thing," neighbor Candance Toscano said.
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund attorney Michael Silverman said the complaint is currently in the hands of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.
The state's Anti-Discrimination Act was amended a few years ago to include transgender individuals, and the state has a form authored by the Department of Regulatory Agencies that indicates a transgender individual must be allowed "access (to a public restroom) appropriate to their gender identity, rather than their assigned gender at birth." It remains unclear if a Colorado school can be compelled to similarly accommodate a transgender child.
The Fountain Fort Carson School District released a statement on Wednesday that reads in part: "The District firmly believes it has acted reasonably and fairly with respect to this issue. However, the District believes the appropriate and proper forum for discussing the issues identified in the charge is through the Division of Civil Rights process."
The parents have said the District wanted Coy to use a nurse's bathroom or a separate staff restroom.
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