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Appeals court: Minnesota students must use locker rooms that align with their gender identity

It follows a lawsuit filed against Anoka-Hennepin School District.
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The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that schools must allow students to use the locker rooms that align with their gender identity, following a lawsuit filed on behalf of a transgender student.

The court ruling, described as "landmark" by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, follows an incident in the Anoka-Hennepin School District in which a transgender student was forced to change in a segregated locker room.

The mother of a transgender male student sued after her son, who was a member of the Coon Rapid High School boys' swim team, was forced to use an "enhanced privacy" boys' locker room, which was "entirely separate and segregated from the main boys' locker room."

The case found that that boy had used the male locker rooms without issue the year prior, but that the policy changed during the 2016-17 school year, with the student threatened with discipline if he didn't use the segregated locker room.

The Appeals Court opinion, which may be subject to further challenge at the Minnesota Supreme Court, said that students shouldn't have to "shop" around schools "to obtain a discrimination-free education."

The decision has been welcomed by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman. The department had joined the lawsuit in August 2019, with the American Civil Liberties Union also involved in the case.

"This decision means that schools are now safer and more welcoming for transgender and gender nonconforming students across Minnesota,” said Vaynerman.

"Our state was the first in the nation to prohibit gender identity discrimination. Today’s decision honors that legacy and continues to build a more equitable and inclusive Minnesota.”

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