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PLF’s letter to the league, submitted today, warns that if the discriminatory policy is not rescinded, PLF will challenge it on Kaiden’s behalf to vindicate his constitutional right to be treated equally, regardless of his sex.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.
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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 11 victories out of 13 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.