Lawsuit claims Anoka-Hennepin Schools discriminated against transgender boy

Several organizations, including the Minnesota ACLU, are suing the state’s largest school district for allegedly discriminating against a transgender boy by not allowing him to use the same locker room as his teammates. 

Only the initials J.H. identify the mother of the transgender boy involved in the lawsuit against Anoka-Hennepin Schools. For safety reasons, the boy is only identified by the initials N.H.

“My son was singled out because he was transgendered,” said J.H.

Court records filed Monday show in 2015 the transgender boy was a freshman at Coon Rapids High School and joined the swim team. Documents claim the school district eventually prohibited the teen from using the same changing facilities as other boys.

“He was told there would be consequences if he used the locker room with the rest of his classmates,” said Christy Hall, the senior staff attorney for Gender Justice.

“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 David McKinney, and ACLU of Minnesota attorney.

The lawsuit says the teen was eventually hospitalized because of mental health concerns.

“They went out of their way and created a problem where there wasn’t a problem; they conspired against my son,” said N.H.

Leaders behind the lawsuit say this all happened as the district was already under a five-year consent decree to deal with allegations of anti-LGBTQ harassment following a different lawsuit after nine students committed suicide in two years.

“Transgender students are two to three times more likely to experience daily verbal and physical harassment and more than half attempt suicide,” said Megan Peterson, the executive director of Gender Justice.

“The Anoka-Hennepin School District has faced legal scrutiny in the past for a similar failure to protect LGBTQ students from harassment,” said Hall.

FOX 9 asked the ACLU if they are suing for a specific amount in this case, but leaders say they will leave that up to a jury.

Anoka-Hennepin Schools released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“Anoka-Hennepin Schools is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment and to providing an education that supports all students and families, including transgender and gender nonconforming students. 

“The use of restrooms and locker rooms are determined on a case-by-case basis. 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.

“Information regarding individual students is considered private student data and the district is not allowed to comment on such information.

“Anoka-Hennepin is confident our actions conform with state and federal law.”