Equal protection is one of the foundational principles of the United States. All individuals, no matter the color of their skin or their gender, must be treated equally under the law. Unfortunately, this principle and clear legal requirement has not always been recognized in practice.
In Minnesota, boys used to be discriminated against and prevented from joining their high school competitive dance teams based on nothing more than the fact that they were boys and not girls. According to Minnesota officials, dance team was a girl’s only sport. This rule violated not only the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, but Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
But no more.
Dmitri Moua and Zachary Greenwald, two Minnesota high school students that are passionate about dance, but had been prevented from joining their schools dance teams because of their gender, decided to fight back. Represented by Pacific Legal Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and most successful public interest law firms, they filed a federal civil rights lawsuit to challenge the girl’s only dance rule.
And last week, they were victorious.
In March, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor Dmitri and Zach, reversing a previous district court denial of their motion for a preliminary injunction, a judicial order intended to prevent the rule from being enforced while the lawsuit was pending.
Faced with this loss and the prospect of an injunction, the Minnesota State High School League has agreed to not only permanently rescind the rule, but also to pay Dmitri and Zach’s attorneys’ fees.
Dmitri and Zach look forward to joining their high school dance teams in the very near future, and participate in a sport they love with their friends. They are excited for this same opportunity to be available to all Minnesota high school students now and in the years to come.
Even if those students are boys.