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By Beth Greenfield

Shine from YAHOO!

The parents of a 6-year-old transgender  girl who has been banned from using the girls’ bathroom at her Fountain, Colorado public school have filed a formal discrimination complaint with the aid of a lawyer—and are using the opportunity to speak out publicly in support of their child.

“The more you talk about something, the more awareness and acceptance there is,” Kathryn Mathis, mother of first grader Coy, who was born a boy, told Yahoo! Shine. “We’re really just trying to make it known what the school has done and make them accountable.”

The family has filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. It will be investigated, and if either party is unhappy with the outcome, the next step would be a lawsuit.

Kathryn and her husband, Jeremy, appeared with Coy on the “Katie” show Wednesday to talk about the case. “The school is really missing out on something big,” Kathryn, a photographer and certified nurse’s assistant, said during the broadcast. “They could be taking the opportunity to teach all of the students that everybody is different and that we should embrace our differences and we should respect everybody. Instead they’re creating this divided environment where they’re showing all these children that a child is different and we’re going to treat them poorly because of it.”

Kathryn and Jeremy, a full-time student and disabled veteran, have four other children, including a set of triplets, one of which is Coy. Kathryn explained on “Katie” that Coy, a Girl Scout who loves pink, began gravitating toward girls’ toys and clothes by 18 months. Gender eventually turned into a bigger issue when Coy asked, at age 4, “When are we going to go to the doctor to get me fixed so I can be a girl?” A psychologist confirmed then that Coy was indeed transgender, at which point, noted Jeremy, “We really needed to let Coy be who she was.”

That led to allowing Coy to “transition” into girlhood in school, which meant dressing as a female, lining up with the other girls and using the girls’ restroom.

“The change in Coy after she transitioned at school was just amazing,” Kathryn said. “The anxiety went away, the depression went away. She became happy.” She told Shine that Coy has many friends, and that they’d never had any problems with or complaints from any of the other children’s parents.

But then, in December, Kathryn and Jeremy got a call from the principal of Eagleside Elementary School, explaining that the school had reversed its position on allowing Coy to use the girls’ restroom. As an alternative to using the boys’ bathroom, he offered, she could use either the one in the nurse’s office or the one reserved for teachers. That, felt Coy’s parents, was unacceptable, and a move that would surely “set her up for harassment and bullying,” Kathryn explained.

Turns out the bathroom ban was also a violation of Colorado law, noted one of the Mathis’s lawyers, Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, based in New York City. The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against transgender students in public schools. And the state is just one of 16 states with similar laws. Just this week in Massachusetts, the department of education mandated that transgender students have the right to choose which bathroom they will use.

But according to the lawyer for the school district, William Kelly Dude, who released an official statement to Yahoo! Shine, the school “firmly believes it has acted reasonably and fairly with respect to this issue.” In addition, the statement says, the family has “chosen to publicize this matter by appearing on a nationally televised show with their child, sharing their point of view with national and local media, and holding a public press conference to announce the filing of the charge. 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.”

Until the matter is settled, the Mathises have decided to homeschool Coy while lending their fierce support—which is vital, Silverman noted.

“More and more we’re seeing parents embrace their transgender children, because they want what’s best for them,” the lawyer told Yahoo! Shine. “And family support is so important in a case like this. Coy is too young to defend her own rights, so she needs her parents to step in for her.”

Public restrooms, for many transgendered youth and adults, are ground zero for anxiety, stress and harassment. That’s the focus of an illuminating 2003 short documentary film, “Toilet Training,” created by filmmaker Tara Mateik and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a New York City transgender law resource.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, especially, like, in the bathroom,” notes one of the film’s subjects, Tommy Wang. “That’s where gender, and how my gender identity was different, came up.” In turn, explains the law project’s founder Dean Spade (who was arrested in 2002 for attempting to use the men’s bathroom at Grand Central Station), “what you see is people not using the bathroom when they need to. And, anecdotally, I’ve definitely seen in the trans community that people have a lot of health problems [like bladder infections] related to that.”

Silverman acknowledged on Katie that the situation is difficult for everyone involved, including for parents of other children who might feel uncomfortable with Coy using the girls’ room. “But somehow,” he said, “we have to find a way to treat all of our children equally so they can succeed at school and in life.”


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  • Israel Rodriguez

    Sorry but I am with the school…. I COULD CARE LESS WHAT THE PUBLIC THINKS A BOY BORN A BOY IS A BOY NO MATTER WHAT… teach him to be a boy. Quit ruining the lives of kids and making them faggits. Thats all this friggin country is doing is making the boy and man a less of what they were… Soon there will be no men… no procreation no nothing. LOOK FOR GOD FOR HE WILL SHOW YOU THE PATH.

    • Larry Stauth

      I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the concept that a 4yr old understand surgecal procedures. Or how an 18month old “gravitated” girls toys… 18 month olds have no preference.

      I am curious, just how bad did they feel for not having a girl?

      • Sinar Indah

        CORRECT!! It’s the parents!!

  • Patrick M. Liston

    Holy Cow…a good candidate for home school…

    • Larry Stauth

      Kind of ironic, they don’t want the child to be alienated by using the bathroom in the Nurse’s office, so they pull him from school in protest… talk about your alienation…

      Love the fact, that they overlook the fact that every child born with Infentil Diabetes (and quite common) actually use the super sanitary conditions of the Nurse’s Office.

  • Melissa Katsmom Votano

    Yet another bunch of loons….this nonsense needs to stop. Really 6 years old. I thought I would spontaneously turn into a boy when I turned 6. When I voiced that notion my mom said that didn’t happen. She told me that boys were born boys and girls were born girls and just kind of chuckled. Didn’t understand biology at 6. I was also under the impression that I might turn into an African-American child. See I was 6 and didn’t understand genetics. What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with people.

  • lovingparentof2

    Why do so many people think that the world needs to change to accommodate them, instead of the other way around. What’s next? They’re going to expect every restaurant and store bathroom to change for them also? If they don’t like the way the school is handling it, they can homeschool her or pay for a private school where you’re buying special rights. But to ask for a public school to accommodate them is presumptuous. Maybe the other little girls don’t want to share the bathroom with “her” because it makes THEM uncomfortable.


    How does a four-year old boy even know that a doctor can turn him into a little boy?

  • Steve Buckley

    These parents are sick! How does a five or six year old child, even get the idea that they are a different gender than what they were born? Who told this child anything about being the wrong gender? The rest of the little girls have rights too, they shouldn’t have to be made uncomfortable because there is a child with male genitalia wants to use the girls bathroom! Sexual orientation is too much for a six year old to make major decisions about, or is it the parents who want to have a transgender child?

  • Matthew Silvey

    There are so many things wrong in this article, I really don’t know where to start.

  • crazy ppl

    Little girls should Not have to share bathrooms/dressing rooms with boys that is insane and in my opinion a case for a lawsuit should something inappropriate occur. There is a reason kids have seperate bathrooms and it should remain that way.

    They say their rights were violated but what about everyone elses? Should others sue them for allowing their son into a girls restroom because to me that violates the rightd of those little girls? This will be never ending! Stop all the frivolous lawsuits people!

  • Patricia Teel

    Transgendering a 6 year old ? What are these parents drinking or smoking ?

  • Teresa

    Insane! Poor children

  • Michael Mantion

    DNA test can determine the gender of a person. Sorry if you have at least 1 y Chromosome you are a guy.. I don’t care what you wear what surgery you get or what “Professionals” Say. A boy is a boy a girl is a girl. If I am 40 and I act like I am 12 can i go back to the 6th grade? If I think I am a dog can I go around sniffing peoples buts and poop in the front yard? If I think I am god can I go around and kill anyone and say “its gods will”?? Sorry but crazy is crazy, if a person is crazy and thinks they are something they are not, then get them help or lock them away from society.

    • Warren Jones

      Well put; in fact, I’ve copied your post and will be sending it to my friends. “sniffing,” “god,” . Priceless. I wish you had gone on and on.

  • Sinar Indah

    whatever… the kid was ‘made’ by his parents!! Oh, for pete-sake!! it’s the parents did it!! How the heck he could “gravitate” toward girly stuff??? O, there’s another one that is no joke: a sin!! and if my kids are in that school (that’s why I’m glad not sending them to public school): I’d say: I’ll sue back that sick family for violating MY rights:))

  • kare

    i agree with the school board on this decision. He is a boy and should use only the boys bathroom. They should have never allowed him to use the girls to start with. What are these parents thinking dressing him as a girl? They want a girl thats what it is. No 6 year old would understand transgender, sex change operation, or even the thought that that could be done. They just want to find a way to sue and make money from school board. Well, home school him if u dont like their decision. Better yet dress him like he should be a boy and send him bk to school.


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