Minnesota joins lawsuit that accuses Anoka-Hennepin School District of trans discrimination

The school district is alleged to have violated a transgender student's human rights.
Author:
Publish date:

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights has filed to join a lawsuit against the Anoka-Hennepin School District and Board, accusing it of discriminating against a transgender student.

A lawsuit was filed against Minnesota's largest school district last month by the Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union, concerning an incident at Coon Rapids High School dating back to 2017.

The suit alleges that a transgender male student who was a member of the 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 Department of Human Rights (DHR), represented by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, has now joined the suit, arguing that the boy – referred to as N.H. – was unlawfully segregated based on his gender identity.

"What happened to my son was not OK," said the boy's mother in a DHR press release on Tuesday. "My interest has always been in trying to make things better for all Minnesota students. The Department of Human Rights and the Attorney General’s involvement sends a clear message to them that they are valued and deserve respect."

The DHR contends that banning the boy from using the main boys' locker room because he is transgender "resulted in a hostile education environment that stigmatized N.H. and other transgender students."

Sign up: Subscribe to our daily newsletters

The state notes that several claims of discrimination have been filed against Anoka-Hennepin School District, including in 2011 following the suicide of four LGBTQ students.

In that lawsuit, the school district was accused of perpetuating a "harmful and toxic environment for LGBTQ students," which in 2012 saw the federal Department of Justice demand it take proactive measures to reduce discrimination.

“Everyone wants to live with dignity and respect. Being treated equally is one of the most important ways that we achieve that," said AG Ellison. "Transgender people, however, are facing challenge after challenge in being treated equally, including in school.

"I’m proud to support the Department of Human Rights in making sure that transgender folks live free from discrimination."

Anoka-Hennepin School District responds

The following statement was issued by the school district on Tuesday afternoon, in which it said it believes its actions at Coon Rapids High conforms with state and federal law.

"Anoka-Hennepin Schools is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment and to providing an education that supports all students and families, including transgender and gender nonconforming students.

"The use of restrooms and locker rooms are determined on a case-by-case basis. The goal is to ensure that all students feel safe and comfortable. Plans for accommodation for restroom and locker room use are made in consultation with school building administrators, the Title IX coordinator, and superintendent in compliance with state and federal law. This approach is consistent with guidance from the National School Boards Association and the Minnesota School Boards Association. Providing privacy for all students is an important consideration. 

The Minnesota Supreme Court held in Goins v. West Group “that the Minnesota Human Rights Act neither requires nor prohibits restroom designation according to self-image of gender or according to biological gender."

"In permitting the student to use the boys restrooms and locker room consistent with his gender identity, the District surpassed what Minnesota law prescribes. Information regarding individual students is considered private student data and the district is not allowed to comment on such information.  Anoka-Hennepin is confident our actions conform with state and federal law."

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 2.44.41 PM

Charges: Minnesota man killed his father with hammer, knife

The 44-year-old admitted to killing his father, court documents say.

P.J. Fleck, Gophers football

Staying home: Gopher football lands 6'7'' football recruit

The offensive lineman is a star player in southwest Minnesota.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Teen worker dies after being shocked at Vikings apartment site

Aaron Welle, 18, of Holdingford, died from his injuries.

teacher, coronavirus, covid-19, school, classroom

90% of MN schools now offer in-person learning, 55% of teachers vaccinated

Gov. Tim Walz had set March 8 as the date for when schools would be expected to offer in-person learning.

Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 8.12.13 AM

Catholic school employee allegedly had 'inappropriate physical contact' with student

The employee is currently on leave pending an MPD investigation.

covid-19, vaccine

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can be together indoors without masks

The CDC on Monday released new guidance for fully vaccinated people.

covid saliva test

MDH to open new COVID testing site in Carver Co. amid B117 variant outbreak

It comes amid an outbreak among younger people in the southwest metro county.

radio station, microphone

KFAN's Paul Allen recounts 'harrowing' fatigue from COVID-19

Paul Allen said he experienced extreme fatigue after testing positive.

Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 9.41.43 AM

Derailed train in Plymouth was carrying molten sulfur

No unusual air quality readings have been reported in the area.

Judge Peter Cahill - March 8

Chauvin trial: Jury pool sent home as court awaits appeals court guidance

Judge Cahill rejected the prosecution's motion to delay the start of jury selection, but it was delayed Monday anyway.

Related

Coon rapids high school

Court allows Minnesota to join lawsuit against Anoka-Hennepin Schools

The school district is accused of discriminating against a transgender student.

Another round of settlement talks set for Anoka-Hennepin lawsuit

Attorneys for the school district as well as six current and former students will meet Thursday. The lawsuit claims Anoka-Hennepin didn't adequately address complaints of severe bullying.

Anoka-Hennepin school district approves lawsuit settlement

The settlement applies to two lawsuits that claimed the school district failed to protect students from bullying that was based on sexual orientation. The students will receive $270,000 total. The one board member who voted against the settlement resigned after it was approved, saying it sets a bad precedent.

Anoka-Hennepin teachers tell district to ditch policies on GLBT issues

Teachers in the Anoka-Hennepin School District aren't happy about the old policy or a new one that could replace it. Union reps voted Monday against any policy that would dictate or limit classroom conversations on gay and lesbian issues. Some people who support the policy fear teachers otherwise would push a "gay lifestyle" on students. Critics say the policy leaves students at the mercy of harassment and bullies.

Anoka-Hennepin school board ends policy blamed for bullying

The school board voted Monday night to replace a controversial policy with a new one that they say will foster a safer and more tolerant environment for students. Critics say the district's old "neutrality" policy, which restricted teachers from addressing issues such as sexuality, left students at the mercy of bullies.

Anoka-Hennepin teachers union backs new policy on sexual orientation

The Associated Press reports Education Minnesota overwhelmingly supports the district's new policy, which would replace the district's controversial "neutrality" rule. And the school district responds to an article in Rolling Stone magazine about the rash of suicides among gay students in the schools.

Anoka-Hennepin votes to settle bullying lawsuits; lone dissenter resigns in protest

The district agreed to pay $270,000, which will be divided among the six current and former students who brought the lawsuits, hire new staff and adopt a system to watch for and report bullying. Supporters who attended the board meeting Monday night called the decision "historic." But former Republican State Rep. Kathy Tingelstad, the lone "no" vote, stepped down from the board in protest. The Pioneer Press has details ...

Anoka-Hennepin School District reaches tentative deal over students' bullying lawsuits

The district has reportedly reached a settlement deal with federal officials and will meet Monday night to vote on the agreement.