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Nonprofit Legal Foundation Sues Minnesota Dance League Over Gender Dispute

Minnesota League's Girls-Only Policy Bars Superior Teen From Performing

Photo courtesy of Pacific Legal Foundation

A nonprofit legal foundation is threatening to sue the Minnesota State High School League for banning a teenager from taking part in dance competitions.

Kaiden Johnson, a 15-year-old from Superior, was prevented from performing at a high school dance championship last December because of his gender.

The Pacific Legal Foundation sent a letter to the league on Tuesday, asking it to rescind its policy that allows only girls to compete. Otherwise, Joshua Thompson, the foundation’s senior attorney, said they’re prepared to defend Johnson’s case in court.

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“If they do not, we will seek an order from the court holding this policy unconstitutional, declaring it illegal and voiding it from the league’s books,” he said.

Thompson said Johnson had to overcome bullying from his peers and other challenges to compete on Superior’s dance team.

“Then, he went to the competition, got on his costume, was ready to compete with his teammates who he’d been practicing with 12 hours a week, and the Minnesota State High School League said he couldn’t because he was a boy,” he said. “They were perpetuating this bullying that Kaiden had faced his whole life – that they said dance is for girls only and that boys shouldn’t do it.”

But, Thompson said Johnson is continuing to fight for his right to compete.

“The government shouldn’t be able to discriminate on the basis of sex without a good reason. The only reason the government has given here — because they admit it this isn’t necessary to comply with Title IX — the only reason they’ve given is they believe that dance is only for girls,” he said. “That’s a reason that may have sufficed in the 1970s, but it doesn’t suffice in 2017.”

Thompson said they’ve given the league until Nov. 3 to rescind its girls only policy before pursuing legal action. Minnesota State High School League Executive Director Dave Stead has said the league won’t comment on threatened litigation.