Maine’s highest court will soon decide which restroom Nicole Maines, a 15-year-old transgendered student, should use.
Last week the state supreme court heard oral arguments about whether a school district violated her civil rights when it forbid her from using the girl’s restroom. She was in fifth grade at the time.
Maines is biologically male but has identified as female since she was very young. As such, she wished to use the girl’s restroom. State law, however, mandates that boys and girls use separate facilities. Her school told her to use the staff restroom instead.
These requirements violate the Maine Human Rights Act, which bars gender discrimination in schools, claim the Maines family and their supporters, including the Maine Human Rights Commission and various LGBT groups.
“At the core of this case is whether the promise of equal educational opportunities for transgender students is realized,” said Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project for the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, in a statement.
Maines said that she felt singled out and embarrassed because of the restroom policy.
“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 administration, and be accepted for who they are,” she said in a statement.
Maines enjoys the full support of her family, including her twin brother, who is not transgendered.
Her father was hopeful that the court would side with them.
“It has been extremely difficult, but I’m pleased to be here and to have our case heard, and I’m very hopeful for a good outcome,” said Wayne Maines in a statement.
The state supreme court is the next step for the Maines family, who lost in superior court earlier this year. The court sided with district administrators, who maintain that they are only upholding state law. To properly resolve the restroom issue for trangendered students, legislative action is required, they argued.
Reconciling transgendered students with school policies has become a thorny issue as of late. The family of a transgendered first-grader in Colorado is also suing the school district over restroom usage.
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