The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that schools must allow trans students to use the gendered bathroom that aligns with their identity. The ruling comes about after a suburban school district was brought to court over denying a transgender boy access to the boys’ locker room – a violation of rights, according to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
In a 57-page ruling, a panel of three judges — Matthew Johnson, Denise Reilly, and Peter Reyes — found that the Anoka-Hennepin School District, located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs, illegally discriminated against the trans student. The court claims the district’s actions were in direct violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Minnesota Constitution.
“It is difficult to imagine how requiring only the transgender student to use a separate locker room would not stigmatize that student,” reads the ruling.
The complaint was brought to the court by the parents of the unnamed student — referred to only as N.H. — by way of the ACLU of Minnesota. According to court documents, N.H. joined the boys’ swim team when beginning school in 2015 and was initially allowed to use the boys’ locker room. However, in 2016, the district’s board began prohibiting the use.
“Throughout the remainder of the 2016 school year, and during much of the 2017 school year, this degrading and stigmatizing segregation singled N.H. out as unfit to use the same changing facilities that are available to cis-gender male students,” reads the 33-page complaint.
The Anoka-Hennepin School District initially tried to dismiss the lawsuit, but that effort was stopped by a district court judge and sent to the appellate court. Spokesperson for the school district, Jim Skelly, said that they are working to review the decision and consider next steps — possibly including an appeal, settlement, or taking the case to trial.
“I never want any student to experience the discrimination and cruelty I experienced from the adults at my school,” noted N.H. in a statement released by the ACLU of Minnesota. “It means a lot to see that courts protect transgender students like me. Today’s decision makes it very clear that segregating trans students doesn’t just dehumanize us, it violates our legal rights.”