Linden v. South Dakota High School Activities Association
Freddie Linden is a freshman at Dakota Valley High School in North Sioux City, South Dakota. He has been dancing since age seven, and has competed with a studio dance team in South Dakota for several years. He is the only male dancer at the studio. Many female studio dancers are on his school’s competitive dance team, and the studio coach is also the school coach.
But Freddie is not allowed on the school dance team because he is a boy.
In a misguided effort to comply with federal Title IX requirements, the South Dakota High School Activities Association established competitive dance as a “female-only” sport—with no corresponding “male-only” team. The only way Freddie can take part in competitive dance is to attend practices and competitions as team manager.
This arbitrary, backwards-looking statute violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Preventing males from dancing does nothing to remedy discrimination against females. Discrimination is not remedied by more discrimination.
PLF has filed suit in federal court in south Dakota on behalf of Freddie, arguing the associations “female-only” designation for competitive dance violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
This lawsuit would not affect schools’ ability to have sex-specific sports. That is, a school may establish both girls-only and boys-only basketball teams, which ensures equal opportunity. But as with any other type of discrimination, government needs an exceedingly persuasive reason for restricting athletic opportunities to just one sex.