Release: Victory for Transgender Student in Minnesota
“The Minnesota Constitution, as well as the Minnesota Human Rights Act, are firmly on the side of transgender students. It’s not just a suggestion that schools respect the gender identities of trans students; it’s the law.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2021
Erin Hart, Communications Director
Gender Justice and Best & Flanagan LLP have secured a $218,500 settlement and significant policy changes from the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District over its discrimination against a transgender student, Matt Woods.
While Matt was a student at Buffalo Community Middle School, the school repeatedly isolated him from his classmates and limited his restroom access to a single facility no other student was required to use, which led to him being removed from physical education classes entirely. The experience of discrimination caused Matt’s mental health to deteriorate, leading to multiple hospitalizations.
Gender Justice and its co-counsel, Best & Flanagan LLP, argued the school district violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, as well as Matt’s constitutional rights to education and equal protection, by failing to provide him with a safe and equitable learning environment.
“The Minnesota Constitution, as well as the Minnesota Human Rights Act, are firmly on the side of transgender students,” said Gender Justice legal director Jess Braverman. “It’s not just a suggestion that schools respect the gender identities of trans students; it’s the law.”
In addition to the settlement, the school district has agreed to create and implement new protections for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students, including:
- Ensuring that transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming students have access to restrooms and locker room facilities that align with their gender identity;
- Ensuring that transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students can play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity; and
- Ensuring that school officials refer to students by the proper names and pronouns.
“I’m glad there will be new gender affirming policies put into place so that no one else has to go through what I went through, because people should be able to express their gender identity and go to the bathroom without being tormented by their teachers and school,” Matt said at an event announcing the settlement. “Gender-affirming policies will literally save lives.”
Today’s settlement announcement puts Minnesota schools on notice: It is illegal – and expensive – to discriminate against transgender students in our state.