Court: Transgender student's rights were violated

Nicole Maines
Nicole Maines
Published Jan. 31, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine — A transgender fifth-grader should have been allowed to use the girls' restroom, Maine's highest court ruled Thursday, concluding that school officials violated state law.

Nicole Maines' family and the Maine Human Rights Commission sued in 2009 after school officials required her to use a staff, not student, restroom.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the Orono school district's actions violated the Maine Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, overturning a lower court's ruling that the district acted within its discretion.

The ruling represented the first time a state high court concluded that a transgender person should use the restroom of the gender with which they identify, according to Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. Federal courts haven't taken up the issue.

Students at the southern Maine high school Nicole now attends cheered when news of the ruling was announced, said her father, Wayne Maines.

Nicole is a biological male who identified as a girl beginning at age 2.

Nicole, who's now 16, said after arguments before the high court last summer 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.