Boys can now compete on what were previously girls-only dance teams following a Tuesday settlement by the Minnesota State High School League.
Dmitri Moua and Zachary Greenwald, two high school students in Minnesota, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) after they were prevented from competing on their schools’ dance teams.
The two boys were represented pro bono by the Pacific Legal Foundation, who announced the settlement in a Tuesday press release. According to the non-profit, the MSHSL agreed to permanently rescind the rule that prevented boys from competing on high school dance teams, and pay for the two boys’ legal fees.
“Dmitri and Zach look forward to joining their high school dance teams in the very near future, and participate in a sport they love with their friends. They are excited for this same opportunity to be available to all Minnesota high school students now and in the years to come,” the Pacific Legal Foundation said.
The settlement comes after a March 6 ruling in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of Moua and Greenwald. The court found that only allowing girls to participate in competitive dance teams violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
The Pacific Legal Foundation argued that whenever “the government discriminates on the basis of sex, it is only permissible if the discrimination is substantially related to an important government interest.”
The MSHSL suggested that banning boys from competing on dance teams was “necessary to remedy the discrimination against girls in Minnesota high school athletics.”
But the Pacific Legal Foundation countered that argument by noting that it was actually boys who were underrepresented in athletics in Minnesota for the previous two school years.
“Further, the evidence in the case showed that very few boys have an interest in participating in dance in Minnesota, so it is unlikely that allowing boys to dance will return Minnesota to a situation where girls are again underrepresented in athletics,” the Pacific Legal Foundation said in response the March 8 ruling.
According to The Star Tribune, the MSHSL sent a letter to its member schools last week to alert them of the settlement and change in rules. They said the settlement would prevent further litigation and “allows MSHSL to work in partnership with our member schools and the Minnesota Association of Dance Teams to prepare for the upcoming dance season.”
The organization maintained that it has “long been a leader in providing opportunities for males and females in both athletics and activities.”
Greenwald spoke with Fox 9 Wednesday to discuss the settlement, saying dance has always been an “artistic and emotional outlet.”
“From the beginning, we weren’t just suing for me and Dmitri to be able to dance,” Greenwald said. “It was to change the rules for everybody, so that’s what the permanent decision reminded me of. This is officially changed for everyone.”
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