The Supreme Judicial Court in Maine is deciding a
case brought on behalf of a transgender female student named Nicole (she was
born male) regarding which elementary school bathroom she was permitted to use.
Originally, the school allowed her to
use the girl’s bathroom but eventually redirected her to a staff bathroom after
a male student’s guardian complained about the situation.
Nicole’s parents reached out to and filed a complaint with
the Maine Human Rights Commission, which sided with the family and then
initiated a legal suit against the Orono School District for denying Nicole the
right to use the girls’ bathroom. After the Court ruled that the school district was within its rights to restrict Nicole to the staff bathroom, the family appealed. The conflict
began in 2009, and Nicole’s family has since relocated to a more tolerant
community in southern Maine. While the
resolution of the court case will not directly affect Nicole, it will likely
have far-reaching effects on the lives of transgender students in the future. Regardless of the outcome in the state Supreme
Court case, either side is likely to appeal, meaning that the legal question may end up being presented to the U.S. Supreme Court one day.
Background information on Nicole’s journey may be found in The Boston
Globe’s 2011 article here. [REG]