Mom fights for transgender son's locker room access at Coon Rapids HS

The rights of transgender students have gained national attention since the Trump administration revoked guidelines last week that specified they have the right to use public school restrooms that match their identity.

Transgender access concerns are not only at the center of debate in Washington, but at schools across the country, including at Anoka-Hennepin Schools.

“My transgender child no longer feels safe attending school,” said Jennifer Halpaus last March to the school board.

Monday night involved deja vu for the mother of a transgender teen when she again found herself in front of the board searching for answers.

“I’ve been waiting a year to find out their policy,” Halpaus told FOX 9.

“I’m tired of waiting,” she said inside of the Sandburg Education Center, where the board meeting is regularly held.

Her question was simple.

“Can my child take a gym class, do another sport, and expect to use the locker room of the gender they identify with?” she asked.

Jennifer’s transgender son, Nick, is a sophomore at Coon Rapids High School who wants a spot on the boys swim team next year. The 16-year-old took a break from the sport after he was struck by a driver last summer and suffered a spinal issue. Now, cleared to swim again, Halpaus says, there’s only one thing standing in her son’s way.

“The school board in is not in favor of making changes that staff is willing to,” she said after previously gaining support from Coon Rapids High School staff.

As it stands, Halpaus says Nick isn’t really welcome in the boy’s locker room. Instead, he’s encouraged to use a new gender neutral changing space, which is next to the locker room he identifies with.

“I kind of feel violated. I mean that’s my kid they’re talking about,” said Halpaus.

In a statement to FOX 9, James Skelly, the Anoka-Hennepin Schools Communications and Public Relations Director wrote:

“Anoka-Hennepin is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment and to providing an education that respects all students and families including transgender and gender non-conforming 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."