October 24, 2018

PLF asks 8th Circuit to stop Minnesota from discriminating against boy dancers

By Caleb R. Trotter Attorney

Last month, we asked a federal judge in Minnesota to preliminarily enjoin the Minnesota State High School League from prohibiting two high school boys from trying out for their high school dance teams because they are boys. Unfortunately, the judge rejected our request. As a result, we immediately appealed the ruling to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and this week we filed our opening brief in the case.

As a reminder, Minnesota is one of the few states in the country that prohibits boys from participating in high school competitive dance. This discriminatory policy violates Title IX and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause protections against sex discrimination. To date, the League has failed to produce any evidence that it has an important interest in discriminating against boys in dance, nor has it produced any evidence that discriminating against boys substantially furthers any important interest. Instead, the evidence actually shows that allowing boys to participate in dance will not prevent the League from pursuing interests in creating opportunities for girls or addressing past discrimination against girls, for example. Thus, we are hopeful that the 8th Circuit will conduct a serious examination of the evidence (or lack thereof) and complete a thorough analysis as required under the law. Upon conducting such an analysis, we are hopeful that PLF clients Dmitri and Zachary will be dancing soon.

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D.M. & Z.G. v. Minnesota State High School League

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.

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