AUGUSTA, Maine — A superior court has ordered a Maine school district to pay $75,000 to the attorneys of a male student who identifies as a female after it was declared that officials discriminated against him by denying the use of the girls’ restroom.
As previously reported, Wyatt Maines is an identical twin who, according to his parents, has exhibited feminine behavior since he was a preschooler. By the time he reached fifth grade, Wyatt legally changed his name to “Nicole,” let his hair grow long, and began regularly wearing feminine clothing.
During that same time period, Wyatt also started using the girls’ restrooms at Asa Adams Elementary School, which disturbed some of the other students. In late 2007, a student’s grandfather voiced his concern to school officials, and the superintendent asked Wyatt to instead use a unisex staff bathroom instead of the main girls’ restroom.
However, Wyatt’s parents—Wayne and Kelly Maines—were unhappy with the superintendent’s request. So, in early 2008, they hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit against the elementary school, claiming the bathroom policy unfairly discriminated against their child. The case has been battled all the way to Maine’s highest court.
After previous court rulings had concluded that the school district had acted within the law, the Maine Supreme Court sided with the Maines family this past February, stating that the now 16-year-old student should have been accommodated for his mental health’s sake. Maines was later diagnosed with gender dysphoria following the 2007 incident.
“Decisions about how to address students’ legitimate gender identity issues are not to be taken lightly,” Justice Warren Silver wrote on behalf of the majority. “Where, as here, 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, denying access to the appropriate bathroom constitutes sexual orientation discrimination.”
He said, however, that the court’s opinion “must not be read to require schools to permit students casual access to any bathroom of their choice.”
The Penobscot County Superior Court has now issued a final order in the matter, prohibiting the school district “from refusing access by transgender students to school restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity.” The court also awarded Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), as well as another local law firm, the amount of $75,000–payable by the district.
“A significant portion of the monetary award will go to the Maines’ family,” Carisa Cunningham, spokeswoman for GLAD, told the Bangor Daily News.
But, as previously reported, Christian and family groups have been expressing concerns over the ramifications of the matter. Matthew McReynolds of the Pacific Justice Institute said that although there are limits to the ruling, it could be used in other states to push a radical agenda.
“On its face, the Maine ruling is limited to that state and is further limited to students with a diagnosed gender identity disorder or dysphoria,” he told Christian News Network. “The concern, though, is that activist judges, politicians and school officials around the country will try to expand and apply this reasoning, regardless of how thin the legal basis may be for doing so.”