When 16-year-old Dmitri Moua discovered dancing, he also found a new way to be a part of a team, and build his self-confidence. But when he wanted to join his high school’s competitive dance team, he was denied because he is a boy. Dmitri’s school is in the Minnesota High School League—whose bylaws declare competitive dance a “girls only” sport. On behalf of Dmitri, Pacific Legal Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the rule’s constitutionality.
Sixteen-year-old Dmitri Moua has long been involved in the performing arts, singing and dancing in theater. But a couple of summers ago, he attended a dance tryout with a friend and discovered a whole new world of enjoyment, self-expression, and teamwork. Dmitri has since studied and practiced jazz, kick, and several other dance techniques, and for him, dance builds his self-confidence and sense of belonging.
But when Dmitri wanted to join his school’s competitive dance team, he was told he could not, because he is a boy.
Dmitri’s school, Roseville High School in Maplewood, Minnesota, is a part of the Minnesota High School League—whose bylaws declare competitive dance a “girls only” sport, thereby prohibiting boys from taking part.
Though he can practice with the team, this rule forces Dmitri to sit out of competitions. In fact, the only way Dmitri can remain with the dance team is as team manager.
Dmitri is understandably disappointed and frustrated.
“I’m really competitive, and I love winning and losing, and learning from mistakes,” Dmitri says. “And I can’t do that if I’m just sitting on the sidelines.”
Dmitri’s mother Bao Xiong says out of all other sports and activities he has tried, dance is where he shines—inside and out.
“It’s really hurtful to see him like this,” Bao says. “When your kids grow up, and you tell them ‘you can be whatever you want, you can do whatever you want,’ and then they want to do something and you can’t do it because the Minnesota league doesn’t allow you because of your gender? It makes me sad to see that.”
Refusing to sit on the sidelines any longer, Dmitri and his mother have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the rule as unconstitutional.
Represented by PLF, the lawsuit argues that the girls’ only dance team limitation is blatant sex discrimination, which violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The league has no justification for its intentional, sex-based discrimination other than outdated stereotype that “boys shouldn’t dance,” which also violates Title IX.