PORTLAND, Maine — A transgender fifth-grader should have been allowed to use the bathroom of her choice, Maine’s highest court ruled Thursday, concluding that school officials violated state anti-discrimination law.
Maines is a biological male who identified as a girl beginning at age 2.
Now a teenager, Maines said after arguments before the high court last summer that she hoped the justices understood the importance of going to school, getting an education and making friends without having to be “bullied” by other students — or school administrators.
Her father said he was grateful that the court agreed that his daughter shouldn’t be singled out.
“As parents all we’ve ever wanted is for Nicole and her brother, Jonas, to get a good education and to be treated just like their classmates, and that didn’t happen for Nicole,” Wayne Maines said in a statement. “What happened to my daughter was extremely painful for her and our whole family, but we can now close this very difficult chapter in our lives.”
Melissa Hewey, lawyer for the school district, said the 5-to-1 ruling provided clarity not just to Orono schools, but to schools around the state.
“The court has now clarified what has been a difficult issue and is a more and more common in schools, and the Orono School Department is going to do what it needs to do to comply with the law,” she said.
paint headerThe Supreme Judicial Court pointed out that its ruling was based on the circumstances of the case in which there was ample documentation of the student’s gender identity.
List subhead“Our opinion must not be read to require schools to permit students casual access to any bathroom of their choice,” Justice Warren Silver wrote.