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Trans students must be allowed to use locker rooms matching their gender identity, court decides in landmark ruling

Emma Powys Maurice September 29, 2020
trans boy

The trans boy had used the boys' locker room for a year without incident, the court heard (Envato Elements)

A school district violated the rights of a trans boy by segregating him from his peers and forcing him to use a private locker room, a court has ruled.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favour of a trans student identified as NH, who used the boys’ locker room without issue after he joined the boys’ swim team at Coon Rapids High School in 2015.

The following year the Anoka-Hennepin school district required him to use a separate and segregated locker room and threatened to discipline NH if he didn’t comply.

The court ruled that by segregating the trans boy to a separate changing space, the district had violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits gender identity discrimination in schools.

“NH identifies as male, has socially transitioned to male, and lives as male. Others also identify him as male and treat him as male,” judge Peter Reyes wrote in the majority opinion.

“Based on this record, we conclude that NH is similarly situated to his peers because he, like his peers, sought to use a locker room that corresponded with his gender identity.”

As a result of the ruling, all schools in the state must now allow students to use locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity.

The move was celebrated by the Minnesota department of human rights, which noted that schools play a “pivotal role” in children’s development and students shouldn’t be required to ‘shop’ among schools and districts to obtain a discrimination-free education.

“This decision means that schools are now safer and more welcoming for transgender and gender non-conforming students across Minnesota,” said the department’s deputy commissioner Irina Vaynerman.

“Our state was the first in the nation to prohibit gender identity discrimination. Today’s decision honours that legacy and continues to build a more equitable and inclusive Minnesota.”

More: anoka hennepin school district, court of appeals, Minnesota, Minnesota department of human rights, trans kids, trans rights

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