Press Release

Minnesota State High School League must let Kaiden Johnson dance

PLF warns of legal challenge to ‘girls only’ policy for competitive dancing

Superior, Wisconsin; October 10, 2017: High school sophomore Kaiden Johnson loves the sport of competitive dancing, but Minnesota school officials won’t let him pursue that passion—simply because he’s a boy. In response, Pacific Legal Foundation is demanding that the Minnesota State High School League end its “girls only” policy for dance teams, so that Kaiden, and any other boy, can compete in high school dance.

PLF’s letter to the league, submitted today, warns that if the discriminatory policy is not rescinded, PLF will challenge it on Kaiden’s behalf to vindicate his constitutional right to be treated equally, regardless of his sex.

“Schools should not be telling kids that they can’t pursue a given sport because it’s either masculine or feminine,” said PLF Senior Attorney Joshua Thompson. “When the government makes distinctions based on sex, it must have an exceedingly persuasive reason. The only conceivable basis for telling Kaiden that he can’t dance is to claim that dancing is something only girls do. That is pure sex-based stereotyping, and of course it’s unconstitutional.

“Over the years, Kaiden has been taunted by some of his peers because of his love of dance, but he has always kept going,” Thompson said. “Now he’s suffering from official discrimination and prejudice from public school officials.”

In contrast with Minnesota, Kaiden’s home school of Superior High in Superior, Wisconsin, does not limit competitive dance to girls. Kaiden is a valued member of the varsity team. But Superior’s teams primarily compete against high schools across the river in Duluth, Minnesota. At a dance meet in Duluth last December, officials enforcing the Minnesota league’s “girls only” policy prohibited Kaiden from dancing for no other reason than the fact he is a boy. He was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch his teammates compete without him.

“I felt left out,” Kaiden recalls. “I practiced about 12 hours a week, for multiple weeks, and then I was told I couldn’t dance. I just felt … like I was useless in that all that work that I put in was wasted.”

“The Minnesota league has two options,” said Thompson. “They can rescind their discriminatory policy and allow Kaiden to dance, or they can have a court order them to comply with the Constitution.”

“Equal protection is a bedrock guarantee of the Constitution, and defending it is a fundamental mission for Pacific Legal Foundation,” said PLF President and CEO Steven D. Anderson. “No one’s right to individual liberty can be taken away because of his or her skin color or sex.”

More information is available at:

About Pacific Legal Foundation
PLF litigates nationwide to secure all Americans’ inalienable rights to live responsibly and productively in their pursuit of happiness. PLF combines strategic and principled litigation, communications, and research to achieve landmark court victories enforcing the Constitution’s guarantee of individual liberty.

Case Attorneys

Joshua P. Thompson

Senior Attorney

Joshua Thompson joined Pacific Legal Foundation in August 2007. He primarily litigates cases involving equality under the law, economic liberty, school choice, and coastal land rights. Joshua was raised in … ›

View profile

Anastasia P. Boden


Anastasia Boden is an attorney in PLF’s Economic Liberty Project, where she challenges anti-competitive licensing laws and laws that restrict freedom of speech. Anastasia’s practice largely consists of representing entrepreneurs … ›

View profile

Case Commentary

See all posts

Fight to keep boys off Minnesota dance teams is a losing battle

Originally published by Star Tribune, November 21, 2018 Minnesota is historically known as a progressive state. But if you’re the parent of a high school dancer, you can be excused … ›

Read more

By James S. Burling

Weekly litigation update — September 15, 2018

Preliminary injunction briefing completed in Minnesota dance case This week we finished briefing our motion for a preliminary injunction in D.M. v. Minnesota State High School League. In this case, … ›

Read more

By Joshua P. Thompson

OCR accepts PLF’s complaint and opens an investigation into MSHSL dance discrimination

This is the first vital and important step in ensuring that Minnesota boys have an equal opportunity to dance.

Read more