Five years ago transgender student Nicole Maines and her family decided to fight for her rights. Nicole had been using the female restroom at her school without incident, but when a male student followed her into the girls room everything changed. The boy, at the prompting of his grand father, argued that he had the same right to be in the girls room.
That’s when the Orono school district decided Nicole was going to be regulated to the faculty single stall restroom.
The decision to fight for her rights wasn’t made lightly and was fraught with disappointment. After losing a lower court case they decided to solider on taking the battle to the state’s supreme court.
In 2011 Nicole and her family appeared for the first time in pubic.
Nicole realized that bathroom wasn’t really the core issue. At stake was the right for transgender students to have access to equal education.
The family’s decision paid off. Her family has become national transgender hero’s and Nicloe was honored by Glamor as a hometown hero . Gay and Lesbian Defenders (GLAD), an amazing group of attorneys based in New England, took the case pro bono. Glad not only has the satisfaction of seeing justice prevail they will also share the monetary award.
TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman issued this statement in response to the decision:
“This ruling marks a huge breakthrough for transgender people everywhere and we thank Nicole, her family and GLAD for this victory. Schools have a responsibility to create learning environments that allow all students to succeed. For transgender students, this includes access to school facilities and programs that match who they truly are as girls and boys.
“This is a momentous decision. It is the first time a state court has declared it unlawful to deny a transgender student access to the bathroom that matches who she is. It follows on the heels of the Colorado Civil Rights Division’s groundbreaking June 2013 ruling in favor of 6-year-old Coy Mathis, whose school had barred her from using the girls’ bathroom at her elementary school because she is transgender. It sends a powerful message to schools around the country that transgender girls and boys need to be treated just like all girls and boys at school.”