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Court Allows Minnesota Department of Human Rights to Join Lawsuit against Anoka-Hennepin School District for Discriminating Against a Transgender Student

8/6/2019 3:00:00 PM

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) can join in a lawsuit against the Anoka-Hennepin School District and School Board for violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act by discriminating against a transgender student, according to /mdhr/assets/2019.08.05%2002cv19922%20ORD%20%282%29_tcm1061-397169.pdfa ruling issued by a Minnesota state court yesterday.

In March 2019, MDHR filed to intervene in the lawsuit after its investigation uncovered that Anoka-Hennepin, the largest school district in the State, unlawfully segregated the student from his classmates by relegating him to a separate changing space, based solely on his gender identity.

“Separate never has been, and never will be, equal,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman. “Since 1993, the Minnesota Human Rights Act has protected everyone from gender identity discrimination, including transgender and gender nonconforming students. The Court’s ruling affirms our right to uphold these protections.”

In its ruling, the Court referenced the Minnesota Department of Education’s Toolkit for Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students, which MDHR played a critical role in developing. The Court explained that while the Toolkit states that transgender students “should be afforded the opportunity to use the restroom of their choice,” this recommendation is in “direct conflict” with how Anoka-Hennepin treated this student.

The Court noted that it was permitting MDHR to join the lawsuit, in part, because it was seeking systemic relief, such as requesting that Anoka-Hennepin revise its policies and procedures, train its staff, and report to MDHR about compliance with the revised policies.

“We are committed to ensuring that Minnesota is the best place in the nation to raise all children, including transgender youth,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman. “As the court aptly stated, this issue impacts every student and family in Minnesota.”

MDHR, in partnership with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, is committed to using all available tools, including litigation, to enforce the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

If you believe you have been discriminated against in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, please contact MDHR at 651.539.1133, 1.800.657.3704 or email For more information, please visit or follow the conversation on Twitter at @mnhumanrights.

Document: /mdhr/assets/2019.08.05%2002cv19922%20ORD%20%282%29_tcm1061-397169.pdfOrder Granting MDHR the Motion to Intervene PDF (560kb)



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