Mother of 5-Year-Old Transgender Girl Fights Texas School District Over Bathroom Access

PHOTO: Kimberly Shappley, a mother of a 5-year-old transgender girl named Kai, is fighting the Pearland Independent School District to allow Kai to be able to use girls restrooms at school. PlayCourtesy Kimberly Shappley
WATCH Mother of 5-Year-Old Transgender Child Fights School Over Bathroom Usage

The mother of a 5-year-old transgender girl in Pearland, Texas, is continuing her fight against the Pearland Independent School District to allow her daughter to use the girls' bathroom.

Kimberly Shappley -- mom of soon-to-be kindergartner, Kai Shappley -- said her fight against the school district started in May. The district allows students to use gender-neutral bathrooms, found in some areas of the school, but the mom says that isn't enough.

"I went to the campus and approached the school district to try and work with them," she told ABC News today. "I wanted to make sure Kai wouldn't be discriminated against and be able to use the girl's bathroom, but it soon became very apparent that the superintendent has a very strong, prejudiced stance against the LGBTQ community."

PHOTO: Kimberly Shappley, a mother of a 5-year-old transgender girl named Kai, is fighting the Pearland Independent School District to allow Kai to be able to use girls restrooms at school. Courtesy Kimberly Shappley
Kimberly Shappley, a mother of a 5-year-old transgender girl named Kai, is fighting the Pearland Independent School District to allow Kai to be able to use girls' restrooms at school.

Coincidentally, later that month, the Obama administration issued a directive to schools saying that transgender students should be able to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The district's superintendent, Dr. John Kelly, said in a statement in May to The Pearland Journal that he believed the directive was just "one more example of unconstitutional interference and social engineering by the federal government."

"What's next? Legalizing pedophilia and polygamy?" he said. "Unless we return to the Biblical basis on which our nation’s laws were established, we are in serious trouble – and cannot expect God’s continued favor."

Kelly added that it "has been the position of Pearland ISD administration that children whose parents declare them 'transgender' must go to the bathroom for the sex indicated on their birth certificate. Such student(s) have also been allowed to use a private bathroom (such as in the nurse’s station) if they are so inclined."

In a statement to ABC News today, Pearland ISD said its "stance on transgender students remains" and that all "Pearland ISD kindergarten classrooms have a private, gender-neutral bathroom within the classroom for student use."

PHOTO: Kimberly Shappley, a mother of a 5-year-old transgender girl named Kai, is fighting the Pearland Independent School District to allow Kai to be able to use girls restrooms at school. Courtesy Kimberly Shappley
Kimberly Shappley, a mother of a 5-year-old transgender girl named Kai, is fighting the Pearland Independent School District to allow Kai to be able to use girls' restrooms at school.

Kimberly Shappley told ABC News today that she was still concerned her daughter, Kai, would feel alienated and discriminated against if she wanted to use the girls' bathroom during recess, physical education, or assemblies -- times she might not have access to a kindergarten classroom where a gender-neutral bathroom is available.

Though Shappley said she found the words and actions of the superintendent and the school "hurtful," she said she would be the first to admit she "used to be one of them."

"I am a devout and conservative Christian and an ordained minister," she said and explained that she tried to force Kai into being a boy when she was a toddler.

"I knew my kid was different before the age of 2," Shappley said. "My child was very feminine, flamboyant and dramatic. No matter how I tried to punish, reshape or discipline her, she continued being very feminine."

By the age of 3, Kai began "adamantly saying and verbalizing she was a girl."

PHOTO: Kimberly Shappley, a mother of a 5-year-old transgender girl named Kai, is fighting the Pearland Independent School District to allow Kai to be able to use girls restrooms at school. Courtesy Kimberly Shappley
Kimberly Shappley, a mother of a 5-year-old transgender girl named Kai, is fighting the Pearland Independent School District to allow Kai to be able to use girls' restrooms at school.

Shappley said a turning point for her came, though, when Kai -- who was called Joseph back then -- began "consistently praying for Joseph to go to heaven."

"Kai was begging the Lord to let her die," she said. "My child would pray and ask the Lord to let Joseph go to heaven and be with Jesus."

Shappley said she then began doing research and discovered that transgender children without familial support are at a significantly higher risk of suicide.

"That did it for me," she said. "I chose to stick with the words in red in the Bible, the words that Jesus spoke. I clung to those words, prayed and fasted -- and the Lord just helped me to be my kid's mom."