Transgender student receives $300K settlement over discrimination dispute involving Anoka-Hennepin School District
A transgender student who faced discrimination from the Anoka-Hennepin School District won a $300,000 settlement on Tuesday.
According to a release, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota (ACLU-MN) and Gender Justice and Stinson LLP have won a $300,000 settlement and several reforms from the Anoka-Hennepin School District over its discrimination against a transgender student identified as N.H.
ACLU-MN said the school district agreed to take several steps, including:
- Reaffirming its commitment to comply with the Minnesota Human Rights Act and not discriminate against or segregate transgender students.
- Developing a policy to allow every student to use all facilities consistent with their gender identity that includes a complaint procedure and a prohibition on reprisals.
- Training all school board members, staff and students on these policies.
- Affirming that students of all gender identities are valued and welcome.
The settlement comes after a ruling by the state Court of Appeals finding that it’s a violation of both the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Minnesota Constitution for school districts to segregate transgender students from their peers in locker room facilities.
The Anoka-Hennepin School District came out with the following statement:
"The Minnesota Court of Appeals has established clarity for transgender student access to locker rooms. Since the decision, Anoka-Hennepin has modified its policy and procedures as well as training of staff and students regarding student right of access to any and all facilities consistent with their gender identity. All legal issues have been resolved. The district is committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment for all students and families including transgender and gender-nonconforming students. The Court of Appeals notes the district’s approach in the majority opinion by stating, "We are sympathetic to all parties involved and readily acknowledge the task the school district faced as it sought to balance the privacy interests of all of its students while addressing issues that are of first impression in Minnesota."
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In 2016, the school board initially barred N.H. from using the boys’ locker room after he had been welcomed by and participated on the boys’ swim team for much of the season. N.H. was forced to use segregated changing facilities that no other students were required to use. This discrimination led to bullying and threats against his family, causing N.H. emotional distress and harm, the ACLU said.
“I never want any student to experience the discrimination and cruelty I experienced from the adults at my school,” N.H. said. “It means a lot to see the courts protect transgender students like me. Today’s settlement agreement makes it very clear that segregating transgender students doesn’t just dehumanize us, it violates our legal rights.”
This the second lawsuit against Anoka-Hennepin School District over discriminatory policies regarding LGBTQ+ students. The first lawsuit alleged the district allowed uncontrolled bullying and created unequal access to education.
The district was still under a five-year federal consent decree to address anti-LGBTQ+ harassment when they discriminated against N.H., according to the ACLU.