An appeals court ruled Monday that a Minnesota school district violated the law when it told a transgender boy that he could not use the boys’ restroom but instead provided a separate restroom.
The transgender student, only identified as N.H. in court documents, sued in February 2019 after he was made to use a separate restroom from the other boys on the boys swim team at Coon Rapids High School in 2015-16.
“We are suing the school board and the school district for discriminating against N.H. because he is transgender. That violates the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the rights of equal rights and due process under the Minnesota state constitution,” said attorney David McKinney in 2019.
On Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed and said that the Anoka-Hennepin School District had no right to provide a separate locker room and restroom for the boy.
The Star Tribune reported, “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.’
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights joined the lawsuit on the side of the former student and praised the decision as a landmark for transgender rights.
“This decision means that schools are now safer and more welcoming for transgender and gender nonconforming students across Minnesota,” said Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman.
N.H., the transgender boy, was hospitalized over “mental health concerns” three times in 2016 and 2017. The student transferred out of the district after one of those incidents.
“They went out of their way and created a problem where there wasn’t a problem; they conspired against my son,” said his mother, identified only as J.H., in 2019.
The school district argued at the time that they were following the best guidelines about how to deal with conflicting rights in relation to the transgender student.
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.
District officials said they will consider their options after losing the court case.