The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota announced Monday that it has filed suit against Anoka-Hennipen School District 11 for preventing a transgender student from using the boys’ locker room.
At a press conference Monday hosted by Gender Justice, who’s partnering with the ACLU on the case, ACLU Staff Attorney David McKinney (pictured above) argued that the district’s actions violated “the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the rights of equal protection and due process under the Minnesota State Constitution.”
According to McKinney, his client, who was referred to as N.H., joined the boys’ swim team at Coon Rapids High School and used the boys’ locker room with his teammates “without any complaints and without any problems.”
“But then the school board got involved, and prohibited him from using the same boys’ locker room that he had used for months,” McKinney said, noting that N.H. was told he would “be disciplined” if he used the boys’ locker room again.
“They segregated him from his classmates, and forced him to use a changing facility that no other student had to use. This degrading treatment made him feel unwelcome and alone. The teenage boy who had been doing well academically and socially until the district intervened was now facing bullying and threats,” McKinney continued. “As you can imagine, all of this led to severe emotional distress for N.H. He ended up in the hospital out of concern for his mental health. Eventually, N.H. had to switch schools.”
McKinney said the ACLU in partnership with Gender Justice has sued both the district and the school board in Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District.
N.H.’s mother, J.H., spoke at Monday’s press conference and said that her “son consistently and adamantly insisted to me that he was a boy” since the age of three.
“My son was singled out because he is transgender. My son, an A-student, lost interest in being at school. I didn’t choose this battle, the school board chose us. They used their power and went out of their way to create a problem where there wasn’t a problem to begin with,” she said. “They conspired to isolate my son and ultimately their actions altered the course of his life and our family’s life. Through all of this, they have robbed him of a normal high-school experience.”
Gender Justice’s Megan Peterson suggested that the “stakes in this case are very high and very real,” since nearly “three percent of Minnesota students identify as trans or gender nonconforming.”
“When transgender students are able to use the facilities that match their gender identity they have more confidence and better self-esteem. As adults, we have an obligation to support kids no matter their gender identity,” she added.
In terms of damages, the ACLU said it’s “very hard to put a number on the damages that come from being denied a normal high-school education,” so it will “ultimately be determined by a jury.”
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