From Maine to California, Trans-students Face Restroom Obstacles
Mathis (top left), Maines (lower center)
A transgender elementary student is currently having the highest court in Maine hear her case after her school denied her the use of female restrooms. While the trial is still being settled, there is reason why 15-year-old plaintiff Nicole Maines, and the LBGT community, have reason to be optimistic about this case.
The Supreme Judicial Court listened to arguments on Wednesday regarding Maines’ school forcing her to use the staff bathroom at her elementary school. A complaint was filed by a male student’s grandfather, which kept Maines from using the female student restroom. The school, located in Maine’s Orono school district, had previously allowed Maines to use the girl’s restroom without any problems prior to the complaint.
Maines’ family and the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) sought legal acting in 2009, filing a discrimination suit against the school. In the initial hearing, a state judge ruled in favor of the school district citing that it acted within it’s own discretion.
Maines’ family and the MHRC successfully contested the ruling, citing that the school may have been in violation of the Maine Human Rights Act, which includes language which bans discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation.
“I hope they understood how important it is for students to be able to go to school and get an education and have fun and make friends, and not have to worry about being bullied by students or the administration, and to be accepted for who they are,” said Maines according to the Associated Press.
Another similar lawsuit is currently panning out in Colorado where the family of Coy Mathis, a 6-year-old transgender girl, is suing their daughters school district for attempting to make her use a separate bathroom. The story is almost identical, with the school allowing Coy to use the girl’s bathroom without any hesitation prior to complaints made by outside sources.
Mathis was featured on Katie Couric’s show in February of this year. In the interview Coy’s parents discuss how their daughter had struggled with being born a boy, but then expressing her wish to be a girl at the age of 4.
The legal plight of those who identify as transgender have been propelled to the national spotlight across the country recently. Wednesday, a California Senate committee approved The School Success and Opportunity Act, a bill that would require schools to respect transgender student’s gender identity in all school programs, activities, and facilities. Labeled as AB 1266, the Senate Education Committee approved the bill by a vote of 5-2.
The bill would also provide training to district and school leaders on how to address and care for any potential transgender students that may enroll in their schools or programs.
“I just want to be treated the same as all the other boys, but my school forces me to take P.E. in a class of all girls and live as someone I’m not. Every day in that class leaves me feeling isolated and alone, making it extremely difficult to learn,” Ashton Lee, a 16-year-old male transgender student, told LGBTQ Nation. Lee testified at the CA committee hearing,
“All I want to do is to go to school and have the same opportunity to succeed as everyone else.”
The bill’s sponsor, Texas Republican State Senator Lois Kolkhorst provided details of the bill, as protestors’ booing grew louder, causing her to momentarily pause before ignoring them.January 6, 2017
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