On Tuesday afternoon, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and the non-profit Gender Justice announced a $300,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed against the Anoka-Hennepin School District about its mistreatment of a trans student. Specifically, the school prevented the student from using the locker rooms that aligned with his gender identity.
Nick, the trans student whose complaint was at the center of the lawsuit, joined the boys’ swim team at Coon Rapids High School in 2015. In February of 2016, after he had been on the team and using the boys’ locker room for months, the Anoka-Hennepin school board informed Nick that he would be disciplined if he continued to use the boys’ locker room. According to the lawsuit, this incident escalated into bullying and threats against Nick and his family. Eventually the abuse contributed to his family’s decision to switch school districts after two years.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the district’s efforts to segregate Nick from his peers in locker room facilities was a violation of both the state’s constitution and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. In addition to the cash settlement, the Anoka-Hennepin School District has agreed to make several tangible reforms, including the reaffirming of its commitment to comply with the Minnesota Human Rights Act and to not discriminate against transgender students or segregate them from their peers. In addition, the school district will develop a policy that ensures students are allowed to use all facilities consistent with their gender identity and make sure that every school board member, staff member, and student is trained on these policies.
“I never want any student to experience the discrimination and cruelty I experienced from the adults at my school,” said Nick in a statement released on Tuesday. “It means a lot to see the courts protect transgender students like me. Today’s settlement agreement makes it very clear that segregating transgender students doesn’t just dehumanize us, it violates our legal rights.”