District: Parents refused to meet in transgender dispute

March 8, 2013
photo - Coy Mathis, 6. Photo courtesy of the Mathis family Photo by Photo courtesy of the Mathis family
Coy Mathis, 6. Photo courtesy of the Mathis family Photo by Photo courtesy of the Mathis family 

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 officials took offense at comments made by the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund indicating that the school officials refused to enter into mediation for a dispute.

D-8 said it turned down mediation because the family of a transgender child at the heart of the dispute shunned a meeting with district officials.

The transgender defense organization had filed a state civil rights complaint on behalf of Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis of Fountain, parents of 6-year-old Coy Mathis. The girl is being home-schooled this semester because she has been denied access to the girls’ bathroom at Eagleside Elementary School. Coy was born a boy, but since around 18 months of age has thought of herself as a girl, her parents said.

The district also stated Friday that they will file a response to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

They have until March 17 to do so.

The district said the response to the commission “will include its explanation as to why the district believed mediation would be unproductive in light of the parents’ refusal to meet, as well as their unwillingness to consider reasonable proposals offered by the district.”

The family contends that they met in person in December with the principal of Eagleside Elementary School and also talked by phone with officials, said Michael Silverman, Defense Fund attorney.

Silverman wrote a letter to the district on Dec. 26 asking that they reconsider the restroom issue, and their response was that there was nothing to talk about.

“We are prepared to meet and talk about concerns. We want her to go back to school quickly,” Silverman said.

He said that the district would let Coy use the boys bathroom, or the nurse’s or staff restrooms. Barring the first grader from the girls’ bathroom could target her for stigma, bullying and harassment, Silverman said.

Contact Carol McGraw: 636-0371 Twitter @mcgrawatgazette Facebook Carol McGraw

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