Coy Mathis's mom: No family should have to fight for respect for transgender children

Wearing a sparkly white tank top and pink sneakers, Coy Mathis held the hand of her lawyer this afternoon as he announced to the press that the six-year-old won her civil rights case. The Colorado Civil Rights Division found that Coy's school was wrong to bar the transgender first-grader from using the girls' restroom.

"Coy wants the same dignity, respect and opportunity -- and deserves that -- as every other student," said attorney Michael Silverman. "The State of Colorado has now said that's what she deserves."

Coy's mother, Kathryn Mathis, said the family was ecstatic when they got a text from Silverman saying that the civil rights division had found in favor of Coy. The six-year-old was excited, too. "She jumped up and down and said, 'I get to go back to school and make new friends now,'" Kathryn Mathis said.

But Coy won't be returning to her previous school, Eagleside Elementary in Fountain. She, her parents and her four siblings have moved to the Denver metro area to better address the special medical needs of Coy's sister (and triplet) Lily, who has cerebral palsy. Instead, Coy hopes to enroll in a school in the Cherry Creek School District.

"Schools should not discriminate against their students," Kathryn Mathis said, "and we're very thrilled that Coy is able to return to school and have the same rights that all the other girls have, that she should have had and was afforded by law to begin with."

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The Colorado Civil Rights Division ruling (on view below) is the first of its kind in the nation, Silverman said. Coy's family hopes it helps students all over the United States. "There are thousands of families like ours across the country," Kathryn Mathis said, "and none should have to fight for their children to have basic respect."

The Fountain-Fort Carson School District, which includes Eagleside Elementary, released a statement about the outcome of the case (also on view below). The district said it was "disappointed" with the ruling and said it considered its compromise of letting Coy use the school's single-user, gender-neutral bathrooms to be "reasonable."

The statement adds that the district is "conferring with legal representation to determine next steps in this process." The district could choose to appeal the decision, which was authored by Steven Chavez, the director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

But Silverman said he hopes the district chooses not to fight further. "If they do continue this fight, it's apparent that they're doing it just because they want to pick a fight with the transgender community in Colorado," he said.

For now, the community is thrilled with the decision. "Colorado has shown once again that it completely supports the equal rights of the transgender community," said Krista Whipple, president of the Gender Identity Center of Colorado. "We can now tell our children that they don't have to be afraid of who they are when they go to school."

Continue for more photos from today's press conference, as well as the ruling and the district's response.

Coy Mathis Ruling

Fountain-Fort Carson School District Statement

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Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

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