An Update from Matt

In today’s climate, where we are seeing attacks on transgender and LGBQ rights increase daily in so many spaces, we all could use some good news. Our work matters. It changes lives. And thanks to Gender Justice supporters and donors, we are making progress, despite what we can feel after reading headlines.

When Matt was a student at Buffalo Community Middle School, he informed his school that he was transgender. He was then assigned bathroom facilities no other student had to use, isolating him and eventually leading to his removal from physical education classes. In 2019, Gender Justice, along with co-counsel Best & Flanagan, LLP, sued the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District, arguing that the district violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Minnesota Constitution by failing to provide Matt with a safe and equitable learning environment.

Our lawsuit resulted in Matt receiving a compensatory settlement from the school district. The district also agreed to create and implement new protections for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students, ensuring that they can access facilities and play on sports teams that align with their gender identity, and that school officials will refer to them by their proper names and pronouns.

Matt’s mom, Helene, recently reached out to Gender Justice to give us an update on how Matt has been doing since then:

First, I just want you to know that all your efforts were amazingly impactful on Matt. As you may recall, he missed a full middle school education and did not like high school. He was truant a lot. It seemed unlikely he would graduate with his class. After the settlement however, he really felt the validation and decided to move forward. This last year not only did he finish all his senior classes with mostly A’s and B’s, he caught up on the three prior years of incomplete or missing credits. He did this while working two jobs. He didn’t think he could get into college, but I did get him to apply to two, and he was accepted to both.

Right now he plans to take a year and learn to live on his own while continuing to work. Then he will go to a technical college for an Associates of Fine Arts degree.

Matt is doing great and we are all so proud of him. But I think it is important you know that not only are you making really important systems changes, you helped a very traumatized little boy regain control of his own life, learn to love himself again and see a future for himself. He is alive in part to all your efforts and for that I am most grateful.

Matt’s journey shows how important it is for all kids to feel safe and supported in school, so they can go on to achieve the lives they dream of and deserve. Thank you, Helene, for sharing Matt’s story! And thank you to our friends and supporters who make wins like this possible.

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