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Teen boys suing to join competitive high school dance teams in Minnesota

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With gender restrictions and no alternatives, plaintiffs say girls-only policy is discrimination

Image source: WCCO-TV video screenshot

Two teenage boys are suing the Minnesota State High School League, alleging that their constitutional rights are being violated because of the organization's rule restricting competitive dance team participation to girls only.

What are the details?

Dmitra Moua and Zachary Greenwald are members of their respective high schools' rec dance teams, and they're able to perform at school functions like pep rallies and sporting events. But the 16-year-old boys are prohibited from trying out for competitive teams in suburban Minneapolis, because of MSHSL's policy that allows only girls to be a part of those elite squads.

Attorneys from the Pacific Legal Foundation, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, say MSHSL's rules are out of date and discriminatory.

PLF's Caleb Trotter said that of the 16 states in the U.S. that offer competitive dance, Minnesota is the only holdout prohibiting boys from participation. Trotter said in a statement that the state's rules are "based on nothing more than an outdated stereotype that dancing is for girls only," Fox News reported.

But MSHSL disagrees, according to The Washington Post. In its defense, the league argues that a Minnesota state statute allows high school sports teams to limit participation "to participants of one sex whose overall athletic opportunities have previously been limited."

In a court brief, MSHSL attorney Kevin Beck wrote, "Simply because Dance Team is not a 'contact sport' does not mean that participation from boys will not upset the competitive balance."

The boys' parents brought the lawsuit back in July, alleging that MSHSL's rule violates the 14th Amendment and constitutes gender discrimination under Title IX. The suit was subsequently tossed out by a federal judge, but PLF appealed the decision, and expects a ruling from the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in the next month.

Anything else?

This isn't the first time that PLF has taken on the cause of discrimination against boys in high school dance.

In 2017, the firm threatened to sue MSHSL on behalf of another male student from Wisconsin, after the league barred him from the Minnesota high school dance championship, The Associated Press reported. Attorneys for the boy in that case filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, but the agency determined there was not enough evidence to prove discrimination.

Last year, PLF filed a similar lawsuit for a male student from South Dakota, which resulted in the state's High School Activities Association voting to suspend its rule against allowing boys to participate in competitive dance — making way for the student to join his school's team.

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