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Court of Appeals Rules that Minnesota Schools Must Allow Students to Use Locker Rooms that Align with their Gender Identity

9/28/2020 12:33:17 PM

[St. Paul, MN] The Minnesota Court of Appeals today /mdhr/assets/N.H.%20%26%20Lucero%20v%20Anoka-Hennepin%20School%20District_tcm1061-448605.pdfissued a landmark decision that Minnesota schools must allow students to use locker rooms that align with their gender identity under the state’s civil rights law. This ruling comes after the Minnesota Department of Human Rights joined a lawsuit against the Anoka-Hennepin School District and School Board, the largest district in the state, for unlawfully forcing N.H., a transgender student, to use a segregated locker room based solely on his gender identity.

“This decision means that schools are now safer and more welcoming for transgender and gender nonconforming students across Minnesota,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman. “Our state was the first in the nation to prohibit gender identity discrimination. Today’s decision honors that legacy and continues to build a more equitable and inclusive Minnesota.”

In a powerful opinion, the court held that it is unlawful to require transgender students to use a locker room that is inconsistent with their gender identity. The court recognized that "students should not be required to 'shop' among schools and districts to obtain a discrimination-free education," because, "[s]chools play a pivotal role in a young person's development and intellectual, mental, and emotional health."

As the court noted, the facts in the case are undisputed. N.H. used the boys’ locker room without issue after he joined the boys’ swim team at Coon Rapids High School during the 2015-16 school year. The following year, the district required him to use an entirely separate and segregated locker room and threatened to disciple N.H. if he did not use the separate room. By segregating N.H. to a separate changing space, the Anoka-Hennepin School District violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits gender identity discrimination in schools.

Today’s ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals comes on the heels of the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and additional federal court cases this summer that affirmed that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal under federal law.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is the state's civil rights enforcement agency. If you have experienced or witnessed discrimination or bias, call the Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-454-0148 or report discrimination online at

Document: /mdhr/assets/N.H.%20%26%20Lucero%20v%20Anoka-Hennepin%20School%20District_tcm1061-448605.pdfN.H., Respondent, and Rebecca Lucero, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, plaintiff-intervenor, Respondent, vs. Anoka-Hennepin School District No. 11, Appellant.


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