The mother of a transgender teen is suing a Minnesota school district for what she says is discrimination against her child, who is actually female but wants to be a boy. The Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District is now accused of mistreating the teen from 2015 to 2017.
Helene Woods pulled her child, Matthew, from Buffalo Community Middle School in February 2017. “What happened to Matthew was devastating,” she said.
Woods told 5 Eyewitness News Matthew was hospitalized several times because the discrimination damaged the child’s mental health.
“Matthew suffered immensely,” said Woods, who refers to her daughter as “he.” “There were times when I was not convinced that he was going to live through this, it was very, very bad.”
Matthew is now 16 and in 10th grade, having “come out” as transgender at 11 years old while in sixth grade. While most teachers adopted her new name and pronouns, Matthew said she was denied access to the boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms for more than a year.
In the lawsuit filed on Thursday, Matthew Woods claims she was eventually prohibited from using the girls’ facilities as well.
She said a gender-neutral bathroom was opened at the school but it was often locked.
“If you don’t let someone transition, then it can make their life and their happiness just go straight downhill,” she said.
According to the suit, the discrimination led to feelings of shame, anxiety and stress, and thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
“A lot of times, I would have to go all the way across the school to the nurse’s office bathroom if I needed to use the bathroom,” Matthew said.
Matthew was given a bathroom to change in for gym but he had to transport clothes to and from a school locker, according to the lawsuit. It said, the district “ultimately removed him from his physical education class entirely.”
Matthew Woods is now at Monticello High School and plans to pursue a career as a cartoon artist.