Manitoba Human Rights Commission to hear transgender girl's case in July

A landmark human rights case involving a nine-year-old transgender girl will be heard in Winnipeg this summer, her family has confirmed to CBC News.

Family of Isabella Burgos, 9, say they plan to attend hearing in Winnipeg

Isabella "Bella" Burgos was eight years old, and had transitioned from a boy to a girl, when she was allegedly bullied by a parent of another student for using the girls' bathroom at Joseph Teres School in the fall of 2014. (CBC)

A landmark human rights case involving a nine-year-old transgender girl will be heard in Winnipeg this summer.

The parents of Isabella "Bella" Burgos confirmed to CBC News that the Manitoba Human Rights Commission has scheduled a public hearing for July 11-15.

"We still don't know what the specifics are of what's happening on these days, but we are coming back to Winnipeg [to] attend," her father, Dale Burgos, said Tuesday from the family's current home in Nanaimo, B.C.

"I feel mixed that we have a date set. I'm glad, but it's unfortunate that we even had to make it to this point."

Dale and Izzy Burgos filed a complaint against the River East Transcona School Division for discrimination, accusing the division of not doing enough to stop bullying.

The complaint was made following an incident in which Bella, who had transitioned from a boy to a girl, was bullied by a parent of another student for using the girls' bathroom at Joseph Teres School in the fall of 2014.

"From the very beginning for us, it's been about education for the students and all staff," Dale Burgos said.

Burgos said he had hoped to reach an agreement instead of going to a hearing. The family has already gone through two investigations without any agreement, he added.

Bella 'doing well out here,' says dad

Burgos said while the family did not move to British Columbia because of the incident, he's glad to see Bella going to a school that has guidelines regarding sexual identity and orientation.

"She's definitely doing well out here, has lots of friends and is enjoying school," he said.

"There were times when we were still in Winnipeg that it wasn't the person we knew — that strong little kid we saw growing up. There were times she questioned some of the things that happened."

Burgos said since the family went public with Bella's case, they have heard from other families with similar concerns.

"We've had conversations with families who are attending school — for example, River East or other school divisions in Manitoba — and they're having difficulties," he said.

"Because we went public, they came to us and started asking, 'What can we do for this?' People are coming to us and we're not professionals in any way, but we became a family who was fighting for education."

As for Bella, who will turn 10 this year, Burgos said the family has not yet discussed the potential of her having to testify at the public hearing.

"We've had the conversation in the sense that she knows what's going on, she knows about the human rights [commission's] potential hearing. We just haven't had that conversation saying, 'You might be up there, talking to the judge,'" he said.

"I foresee that conversation not really changing her whole sense on it. The only thing is I might want to protect her."


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