Skip to main content
Publish date:

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:

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

dual citizen brewing

St. Paul brewery to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID test

Staff will also be required to wear masks and test negative for COVID.

snow, snowplow

Winter storm watch issued as Friday storm track wobbles

The latest model runs show the heaviest snow a bit north of where the watch is in place.

Cam Talbot / Minnesota Wild

Talbot leads Wild to 7th straight victory

The Wild opened a four-game road trip with a win in Edmonton.

Paige Bueckers

Paige Bueckers out 6-8 weeks with injury

The Hopkins native was hurt during Sunday's matchup with Notre Dame.

Anthony Barr

Vikings' defense could get reinforcements against Steelers

Several starters could return for a critical Thursday night matchup.

Mercer ATV accident fundraiser

High schooler in coma, fighting for his life after ATV crash

Family members found the teen on the ground and unresponsive.

Nolan Sprengeler - muskie record - nov 2021

Angler officially breaks 64-year-old state muskie record

The muskellunge he caught on Nov. 22 weighed a whopping 55 pounds, 14 ounces.

coronavirus, ICU, covid-19 hospital, doctor

4th teen COVID-19 death reported in MN is the 2nd in as many weeks

All four teenage COVID-19 deaths in the state have been reported in the past two months.

Anil Menon

Minnesota native named to NASA's new astronaut class

When he's done training, he could be sent to the space station or the moon.

broadway pizza interior facebook

Gallery: Original Broadway Pizza auctioning off everything

Get your hands on some classic Broadway signage, train-themed decor and more.

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.

Coon rapids high school

Transgender student wins $300K settlement from Anoka-Hennepin schools

Student Nick Himley was forced to change in a segregated locker room at Coon Rapids High School.

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.

classroom mask

Anoka-Hennepin, Moorhead schools enact mask mandates

Previously, the districts were only recommending masks for unvaccinated students and staff.

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 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.