Minn. Court of Appeals Rules School District ‘Discriminated’ Against Girl Who Sought to Use Boys’ Locker Room

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals, located in the capitol city named after the New Testament evangelist, has ruled that a female student who identifies as male, who was instructed to used an “enhanced privacy” area rather than the main section of the boys’ locker room, has a legitimate legal claim under the Equal Protection clause of the state constitution.

“[W]e … hold that a transgender high-school student who is denied use of a locker room that is available to students of the gender with which the student identifies and to which the student has socially transitioned states a claim upon which relief can be granted
of an equal-protection violation under Article I, Section 2 of the Minnesota Constitution,” wrote Judge Peter Reyes.

According to reports, the student, who was born female but identifies as male and goes by the initials N.H., joined the boys’ swim team at Coon Rapids High School in 2015. She was initially allowed to use the men’s locker room to change.

The school later told the student that she had to use the girls’ locker room but retracted its decision the same day. The student was hospitalized days later for mental health issues.

The following year, an attorney for the Anoka-Hennepin School District released a memo advising that restroom and locker room use will “be determined on a case-by-case basis … to ensure that all students feel safe and comfortable.” The boys’ locker room at Coon Rapids was also remodeled with an “enhanced privacy” area separate from the main section and with a different entrance.

In 2017, the district contacted N.H.’s mother and suggested her daughter use the “enhanced privacy” area for changing for physical education, but she continued to utilize the main boys’ main locker room and was consequently threatened with disciplinary action.

Therefore, N.H. transferred to another school and soon filed a discrimination complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

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The Anoka-Hennepin School District sought for the case to be dismissed, but a district judge rejected the motion. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the student did indeed have a legitimate claim under the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Minnesota Constitution.

“Under a plain reading, the MHRA’s education provision protects the rights of any student to use locker rooms without discrimination,” Reyes stated. “[T]he provision explicitly prohibits discriminating in any manner on the basis of sexual orientation, which includes segregating or separating transgender students.”

“The school district constructed an additional enhanced-privacy locker room separate from the main facility and required N.H. to use it because he is transgender. Applying the plain language of the statute, we conclude that requiring a transgender student to use a different locker-room facility because of his sexual orientation is discrimination,” he said.

However, Judge Matthew Johnson dissented, finding that N.H. was not entitled to an equal protection claim since she is not a boy and “retained [her] female anatomy.”

“The anatomical differences between transgender boys and cisgender boys are relevant for the obvious reason that they are visible when boys shower or change clothes in shared spaces,” he wrote.

“Furthermore, relevant details are absent from N.H.’s complaint, such as descriptions of the physical features of the general boys’ locker room and the enhanced-privacy boys’ locker room, the frequency and manner in which students typically use the locker rooms, and the likelihood that boys using the general boys’ locker room would be able to see each others’ unclothed bodies,” Johnson outlined.

“A record of these and other relevant facts must be developed before the district court may determine the key factual issues, either on a motion for summary judgment or at trial.”

Read the ruling and dissent in full here.

The district is reviewing the ruling and considering its next steps. Spokesman Jim Skelly told Courthouse News that the district thought it was following state guidance in creating the “enhanced privacy” area.

“The district believed that it was following guidance, so it’s not like the district was challenging guidance from the state or from other sources,” he explained. “Our goal is to have a district free from discrimination … that’s what we believed we were doing in that situation, but the court had a different opinion.”

Photo Credit: Jon Tyson/Unsplash

As previously reported, while some view transgenderism and gender confusion as a medical condition, Christians believe the matter is also, at its root, a spiritual issue — one that stems from the same predicament all men everywhere face without Christ.

The Bible teaches that all are born with the Adamic sin nature, having various inherent feelings and inclinations that are contrary to the law of God, and being utterly incapable of changing by themselves.

It is why Jesus came: to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Scripture outlines that Jesus came to be the propitiation for men’s sins (1 John 2:21 John 4:10), a doctrine in Christianity known as substitutionary atonement, and to save men from the wrath of God for their violations against His law (Romans 4:25Romans 5:9Romans 5:16), a doctrine known as justification.

The Bible also teaches about regeneration, as in addition to sparing guilty men from eternal punishment, Christ sent his Holy Spirit to make those who would repent and believe the gospel new creatures in the here and now, with new desires and an ability to do what is pleasing in the sight of God by His indwelling and empowerment (Ezekiel 11:192 Corinthians 5:17Titus 3:5).

Jesus said that men must be born again, and have their very nature transformed by the Spirit from being in Adam to being in Christ, or they cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-8).

The late Anglican preacher J.C. Ryle once said, “Can any change his own heart? No! The thing is impossible. We can no more quicken and impart life to our souls than we can to our bodies; we can no more rise and become new men in our own strength than wash away sins by our own performances. It is impossible! The natural man is as helpless as Lazarus was when he lay still and cold and motionless in the tomb. We may remove the stone, as it were, and expose the sad work of death — but we can do no more.”

“There must be a power far mightier than any power of earth in exercise before the natural man can awake and arise and come forth as a new creature. And to do all this is the special office of the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to send. It is He who quickens; it is He who gives life.”

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