Minnesota boys suing MSHSL to join girls’ high school dance teams

Published 9:38 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — Two teenage boys sued the Minnesota State High School League on Wednesday, alleging it maintains unconstitutional rules that bar boys from joining girls’ competitive high school dance teams.

Dmitri Moua and Zachary Greenwald filed a federal lawsuit with help from their parents and the Pacific Legal Foundation, which has worked on similar cases with students in at least two other states.

The two 16-year-olds want to try out for their schools’ dance teams in suburban Minneapolis, but the league’s rules prohibit boys from competing on girls’ dance teams, according to the lawsuit. The suit argues the rules violate Title IX, the federal law that bars sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds.

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“Things are changing,” Moua told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I feel that students should not be limited based on sex.”

Foundation attorney Caleb Trotter added in a statement: “Minnesota’s school sports league cannot discriminate against boys based on nothing more than an outdated stereotype that dancing is for girls only.”

The Minnesota State High School League doesn’t comment on pending litigation, spokesman Tim Leighton said Wednesday.

Moua, who will be a junior this fall at Roseville Area High School, volunteered to become the manager for his school’s dance team but no longer wants to sit on the sidelines. He said he finds that dance gives him “self-confidence and a feeling of acceptance and belonging,” the lawsuit said.

Greenwald, who will be a junior at Hopkins High School, began dancing in fifth grade and “thrives on the athleticism and competition of dance,” according to the lawsuit.

The Minnesota State High School League was previously threatened with a lawsuit by the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation after the league barred a male student from the high school dance championship in 2017. The student attended a high school in northwestern Wisconsin that competed against Minnesota teams.

Attorneys for the student filed a federal civil rights complaint that November. In May, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude that the league discriminated against boys in the case. The student’s school had already withdrawn from the Minnesota league, and he was able to dance with his team in Wisconsin, according to the foundation.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors voted to suspend its rule to allow a male student to compete on his high school’s dance team this fall. The move came after the student filed a lawsuit with help from the foundation.