Maine school district ordered to pay $75K in transgender discrimination suit

Robert F. Bukaty, AP
Transgender student Nicole Maines, center, with her father Wayne Maines, left, and brother Jonas, speaks to reporters outside the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor, Maine on June 12, 2013. LGBTQ Nation

ORONO, Maine — A Maine court has awarded the family of a transgender girl $75,000 in a settlement of her discrimination lawsuit against a school district where administrators made her use a staff, not student, bathroom.

Robert F. Bukaty, APTransgender student Nicole Maines, center, with her father Wayne Maines, left, and brother Jonas, speaks to reporters outside the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor, Maine on June 12, 2013.

Robert F. Bukaty, AP
Transgender student Nicole Maines, center, with her father Wayne Maines, left, and brother Jonas, outside the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor, Maine on June 12, 2013.

Nicole Maines won her lawsuit against the Orono school district in January before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled that the school district violated the Maine Human Rights Act. It was the first time a state high court in the U.S. concluded that a transgender person should use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

A lower court awarded her the financial settlement last week. It will go to the Maines family, the Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Berman Simmons, a Portland law firm that represented Maines, said GLAD spokeswoman Carisa Cunningham.

The Penobscot County Superior order, dated Nov. 25, represents the conclusion of the court case that began in 2009 when the Maines family and the Maine Human Rights Commission sued the school district. The order prohibits the district from “refusing access by transgender students to school restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity.”

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School administrators across the country are grappling with the issue.

Nicole, now 17, is a biological male who identified as a girl beginning at age 2.

Nicole was using the girls’ bathroom in her elementary school until the grandfather of a fifth-grade boy complained to administrators. The Orono school district determined that she should use a staff bathroom, but her parents said that amounted to discrimination.

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