Boy banned from high school dance competition in Minnesota

Published 12:36 pm Friday, November 17, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — Attorneys for a Wisconsin boy who wants to compete with his high school dance team have filed a federal civil rights complaint after the Minnesota State High School League barred him from a championship competition.

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed the complaint Tuesday with the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education, The Star Tribune reported. It argues that Minnesota’s policy is discriminatory and violates Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds.

Kaiden Johnson, 15, attends Superior High School in Wisconsin. The school allows him to dance with the team. The Minnesota league told Johnson in December that he couldn’t compete with his team in competitions in Minnesota because that state doesn’t allow boys on high school dance teams.

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Membership on athletic teams can be restricted to one gender if their overall athletic opportunities have previously been limited, according to a Minnesota state statute.

“I get that,” said Ray Kosey, activities director at Superior. “If 20 boys tried out for the dance team, some girls might get cut and eliminate some girls from participating.”

But Kosey said it’s time to examine if the law is outdated and should be changed.

“We know boys who are in Minnesota who want to be part of a dance team,” said Miranda Lynch, Johnson’s mother. “But they don’t want their name out there because they don’t want to be bullied.”

The Minnesota league shouldn’t bar boys from competitive dancing, said Joshua Thompson, a Pacific Legal Foundation attorney.

“Title IX’s requirement for equal opportunity for all students, regardless of sex, is crystal clear,” Thompson said. “Schools cannot tell either boys or girls, ‘you’re the wrong sex, therefore, no dancing for you.’”

Kevin Beck, an attorney for the Minnesota league, declined comment.