Judge Rules Transgender Teen’s Lawsuit Against Anoka-Hennepin Can Continue
A state judge ruled on Monday, August 5th that the lawsuit against Anoka-Hennepin School District for discriminating against a transgender student (N.H.) can continue. Anoka County Judge Jenny Walker Jasper ruled against the school district's motion to dismiss and officially let the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MNHR) join the lawsuit alongside ACLU of Minnesota and Gender Justice.
“Allowing the lawsuit to continue and the state Department of Human Rights to join the fight is a big step toward justice for N.H. and other transgender students facing discrimination,” said ACLU-MN Staff Attorney David McKinney. “The judge’s strongly worded opinion acknowledges the risk our transgender students face in educational settings, and how discrimination can prevent them from getting an equal and adequate education. It’s important to note that Anoka-Hennepin is the state’s largest school district, and other districts need to pay close attention to this ruling.”
The lawsuit, filed in February, asserts that Anoka-Hennepin School District violated the state constitution’s right to due process and equal protection and the Minnesota Human Rights Act by treating N.H. differently than other students and failing to provide him with an equal and adequate education.
The school district and its school board barred the student – who had joined the boys’ swim team and used the boys’ locker room matching his gender identity for months without incident – from using the boys’ locker room. N.H. was singled out and forced to use segregated changing facilities no other student was required to use. The emotional distress, bullying and threats experienced by N.H. and his family as a result of this discrimination drove him to switch schools.
“We are very pleased with the district court’s thoughtful and well-reasoned decision in this case,” said Gender Justice Senior Counsel Christy Hall. “As the judge wrote, the plain language of Minnesota law states that it is an unfair discriminatory practice for a school to discriminate against a transgender student in any manner that prevents the student from taking advantage of the full benefits offered or services provided by the school district. We hope that the court’s plain language today sends a message that schools that fail to provide supportive environments for their trans and gender nonconforming students are at risk of a lawsuit.”