Transgender student barred from boys’ locker room gets $300K settlement

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A transgender student who was barred from using the boys’ locker room at his Minnesota high school is getting more than $300,000 from the school district, his legal team announced this week.

Nick H — who asked not to reveal his surname out of safety fears — came out as transgender in 2015 shortly before starting his freshman year at Coon Rapids High School, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota, which helped bring his case.

The swim-team member used the boys’ changing room “for months, without any complaints or any problems,” ACLU staff lawyer David McKinney said in a virtual press briefing with his bearded client Tuesday.

“Then the school board got involved” in 2016 and “prohibited Nick from using the boys’ locker room, and said he would be disciplined if he did,” McKinney said, with the then-teen assigned to a “segregated room.”

“This degrading treatment singled Nick out, it segregated him from his classmates” and made him feel “unwelcome and alone,” the lawyer said.

“He started getting bullied and getting threats, causing him severe emotional distress,” McKinney said, with court documents detailing how he was even hospitalized.

Nick sued the Anoka-Hennepin School District and “the school board finally agreed to settle the case,” McKinney said.

As well as a settlement of “over $300,000,” the district also agreed to “numerous important policy reforms” to make sure other trans kids do not suffer the same experience, the lawyer said.

The district confirmed to the Star Tribune that “all legal issues have been resolved.”

Nick called the legal battle “a hard experience” that involved “a lot of time reliving some painful and embarrassing moments.”

“My goal was not just to improve my own situation, but to make a difference … and hopefully make things better for the next generation of students,” he said in the Zoom briefing.

“I really put myself out there, but I know that just by being here — by standing up and being visible — I can make a difference. We all can,” he said, encouraging other students to “speak up.”

McKinney said that his client ” like every child … should have been given the opportunity to get an education free from discrimination.

“Schools should be a place where every child feels safe and valued for who they are. It should be a place where children are encouraged to be themselves,” he said.

Gender Justice also backed the case. “Discrimination against transgender students is not only hurtful and wrong, it is also expensive,” said the nonprofit’s executive director, Megan Peterson.

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