Colorado’s civil rights division has ruled that a school district near Colorado Springs discriminated against a first-grader who was born as a boy but identifies as a girl when it banned her from the girls’ bathroom.
The Fountain-Fort Carson School District cooperated with a request from transgender student Coy Mathis’s parents that they treat her like a girl, and at first she was allowed to use the girls’ bathroom at Eagleside Elementary School. But in late 2012, school officials instructed Coy to use teachers’ bathrooms or a unisex bathroom in the health office, fearing that some students and parents would be troubled if she used the girls’ bathroom as she grew older.
More from GlobalPost: Coy Mathis, transgender 1st grader, banned from using girls’ bathroom
Telling Coy “that she must disregard her identity while performing one of the most essential human functions constitutes severe and pervasive treatment, and creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating or offensive,” the division wrote in its report, signed by director Steven Chavez, according to the New York Times.
The school’s decision “deprived her of the social interaction and bonding that commonly occurs in girls' restrooms during these formative years, i.e., talking, sharing and laughter," the report said, according to Reuters.
The division also argued that while Coy is identified as male on her birth certificate, more recent medical and legal documents say she is female, the New York Times reported.
"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, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the organization that filed the complaint for the Mathis family, said.
Coy has been home-schooled since February. It was not immediately clear whether the family would enroll her in school in Denver, where they now live, following the decision.