The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a trans boy student at Coon Rapids High School had a right to use the boys’ locker room.
The Anoka-Hennepin School District directed the student, N.H., to use an “enhanced privacy” bathroom separate from the boys’ locker room in violation of the state’s human rights act, the court said in a decision he state Department of Human Rights called a landmark ruling.
“This decision means that schools are now safer and more welcoming for transgender and gender nonconforming students across Minnesota,” Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman said in a statement.
The Court of Appeals also referred to the statewide significance of the Anoka County case.
“An estimated 24,250 adults in Minnesota identify as transgender, all of whom were high school students at some point,” the court said.
Anoka-Hennepin said in a statement it was reviewing the decision and carefully considering its next steps.
“The district’s top priority is maintaining a learning environment that is safe, secure and free from discrimination, and its decision will be guided by those values,” the district said.
N.H. was a member of the boys’ swim team and had used the boys’ locker room for much of the season 2015-16 before the district moved to halt the practice.
His mother sued the district alleging discrimination in and six months later, Anoka County District Judge Jenny Walker Jasper rejected the district’s effort to have the case dismissed.
As ‘Star Tribune’ reports, the district based its argument in part on a reading of the employment provision of the state’s human rights act, which also has a provision covering education.
In 2001, the district said, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that an employer’s designation of employee restrooms based on biological gender did not violate the human rights act.
In its decision, the Court of Appeals used what it described as the “plain language” of the education provision to conclude that “requiring a transgender student to use a different locker-room facility because of his sexual orientation is discrimination.”
Anoka-Hennepin constructed the enhanced privacy bathroom in the summer of 2016 as part of a locker-room remodelling.
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