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PLF’s letter to the league, submitted today, warns that if the discriminatory policy is not rescinded, PLF will challenge it on Kaiden’s behalf to vindicate his constitutional right to be treated equally, regardless of his sex.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

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 Attorneys

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 … ›

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Anastasia P. Boden

Attorneys

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 … ›

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Video

Kaiden Johnson—Teen Dancer Kicked Out of Competition for Being a Boy

Kaiden Johnson loves competitive dance, and he is a valued member of the varsity dance team at Superior High School in Superior, Wisconsin But the team primarily competes against high schools across the river in Duluth, Minnesota—and the Minnesota State High School League has a “girls only” policy for dance teams

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

Read more
Podcast

Fighting for inclusion and fairness in Minnesota

Hear directly from PLF client Kaiden Johnson and his mother, Miranda Lynch, as they explain their willingness to fight for the right that school athletics can’t turn kids away based on their sex.

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Post

By Joshua P. Thompson

It’s time for Minnesota to let Kaiden dance

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) governs interscholastic sports in Minnesota It creates the eligibility criteria for sports, establishes the rules, governs sportsmanship, and is in charge of officiating One of the sports it oversees is competitive dance, and according to its bylaws, only girls are allowed to participate in that sport

Kaiden Johnson is a sophomore at Superior High School in Superior, Wisconsin He’s a member of that school’s varsity dance team Because of its proximity to Duluth, Minnesota, Superior High School primary competes in the Lake Superior Conference, a Minnesota conference governed by MSHSL

Last year, as a freshman, Kaiden made the the

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