COON RAPIDS, Minn. (KMSP) - After more than a year of waiting for an answer, a transgender teenager and his mother have finally received a decision from the Anoka-Hennepin School District on whether or not he will be allowed to use the boy's locker room at Coon Rapids High School.
The school board has assigned Nick Himley, a sophomore, to use the boy's locker room with "enhanced privacy" after gym or swim class at the high school. But according to Himley, the space with "enhanced privacy," while connected to the boy’s locker room, is separate from the rest of the boys.
Nick says the space stigmatizes transgender students and promotes exclusion.
“I really don't like it,” Himley said.
Himley says he was hoping to have access to the non-extended boy’s locker room like he did his freshman year with support from school staff when he swam on the Cardinals boy’s swim team.
“We don't spend that much time in there, so I really don't know why it's a big deal,” Himley said.
Jennifer Halpaus, Nick’s mom, says bullying tends to happen in those confined spaces.
Halpaus has gone before the Anoka-Hennepin school board twice over the issue members and the district leaders took with transgender students’ bathroom and locker room access.
“Some people are okay with it, some are not, and the school board has to please both sides,” she said.
The school district declined Fox 9’s request for an interview, citing "private student data,” but Nick still has two and a half years at Coon Rapids High School. He has he plans to keep representing the school with pride and without fear.
“This is not the end,” Himley said.
Nick's mom tells Fox 9 it will take legislative leadership in order for there to be some consistency on the issue in terms of human rights and inclusion of transgender students at Minnesota public schools. The case of transgender teen Gavin Grimm. which is under review in the federal court system, could change or continue to restrict transgender students’ bathroom and locker room access.
Statement from Anoka-Hennepin School District
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 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. Providing privacy for all students is an important consideration. Plans for accommodation for restroom and locker room use are made in consultation with school building administrators, the Title IX Coordinator, and Superintendent.
Anoka-Hennepin intends to maintain this policy and procedure in compliance with state and federal law.
Information regarding individual students is considered private student data and the district is not allowed to comment on information classified as private student data.