MINNEAPOLIS – Two boys sued the Minnesota State High School League on Wednesday, alleging it maintains unconstitutional rules that bar boys, participation of girls competitive high school dance teams.
Dmitri Moua and Zachary Greenwald filed a federal lawsuit with the help of their parents, and the Pacific Legal foundation, which has worked on similar cases with the students on at least two other states.
The two 16-year-olds want to try out for their schools’ dance teams in a suburb of Minneapolis, but the league’s rules forbidding boys to compete on girls’ dance teams, according to the lawsuit. The suit makes the rules violate Title IX, the federal law that bars discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs that receive federal funds.
“Things are changing,” Moua told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I feel that students should not be limited on the basis of gender.”
Foundation lawyer Caleb Trotter added in a statement: “Minnesota school sports league, may not discriminate against guys based on nothing more than an outdated stereotype that dancing is for girls only.”
The Minnesota State High School League does not respond to pending litigation, spokesman Tim Leighton said Wednesday.
Moua, who will be a junior this fall at Roseville Area High School, volunteer to be the manager for his school’s dance team, but no longer wants to sit on the sidelines. He said that he thinks that the dance gives him self-confidence and a sense of acceptance and belonging,” the lawsuit said.
Greenwald, who will be a junior at Hopkins high School, started dancing in the fifth grade and “thrives on the sportsmanship and competition of the dance,” according to the indictment.
The Minnesota State High School League earlier had been threatened with a lawsuit by the California-based Pacific Legal foundation after the league ruled out a male student from the high school dance championship in 2017. The student participated in a high school in northwest Wisconsin, who competed against Minnesota teams.
Lawyers for the student filed a federal civil rights complaint in November of that year. In May, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights determined that there is not enough evidence to conclude that the league discriminated against boys in the case. The student the school had already withdrawn from the Minnesota league, and he was able to dance with his team in Wisconsin, according to the foundation.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 the rule to allow a male student to compete on his high school dance team this fall. The move came after the student filed a lawsuit with the help of the foundation.