US: State court rules trans students can choose bathroom

A primary school in America acted unlawfully when it prevented a transsexual boy from using the girls’ toilets, a court has ruled.

Last week, the highest court in the US state of Maine ruled that Orono school district breached the human rights of a boy known as Nicole, who was told he must use the staff, not female bathroom.

Nicole Maines’ family and the Maine Human Rights Commission sued in 2009 when Nicole – who is biologically male – was in the fifth grade (year six).

Complaint

Nicole, who is now 16-years-old, was told to use the staff bathroom following a complaint about him using the girls’ toilets – Nicole’s family said this was discriminatory and sued the school district.

The five to one Maine Supreme Court ruling overturned a lower court which had decided in favour of the school.

In 2005, Maine brought in a law which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of ‘gender identity’ – but another law requires separate bathrooms based on gender.

Psychological

One of the judges, Justice Warren Silver, said, “it has been clearly established that a student’s psychological well-being and educational success depend upon being permitted to use the communal bathroom consistent with her gender identity”.

A transgender rights group based in Boston hailed the ruling as a “breakthrough”, saying it is the first time a state high court has concluded that a transsexual can use the toilets of the sex they identity with.

Last year a six-year-old boy in the US state of Colorado won the right to use the girls’ toilets at school because he is transsexual.

And in California, a new law was introduced allowing transsexual students to access bathrooms and changing rooms of the sex they have chosen.

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