Nick Himley sued his school district in Minnesota for discriminating against him for being trans after the school board blocked him from using the boys' locker room. On March 23rd, Anoka-Hennepin School District settled the lawsuit for $300,000—along with policy reform and diversity training for educators, students and board members.
In 2016, Himley had been a part of and accepted by the Coon Rapids High School swim team for most of the season before they unexpectedly isolated him to a private locker room. This separation and "othering" from his teammates created an uptick in bullying towards Himley.
The press release from Gender Justice stated:
"This discrimination led to bullying and threats against his family, causing Nick emotional distress and harm."
The harassment became unbearable for Himley, leading him to hospitalization for "mental health concerns," as stated in the court documents. After his third hospitalization, Himley and his family decided to move to a new school district.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled with the student that using segregated locker room facilities was indeed a violation of the Minnesota Constitution and the Human Rights Act.
"I wanted the school district and the school board to understand that how they allowed me to be treated was wrong, and to hopefully make things better for the next generation of students – not just at Anoka-Hennepin, but across Minnesota."
ACLU-MN's David McKinney stated:
"This sends a strong message to school districts throughout the state: it's unconstitutional to treat trans students differently from other students."
This is not the first lawsuit like this the state has seen. In 2011, St. Paul's charter school faced a $120,000 settlement and trans inclusionary policy changes after Dave and Hannah Edwards' child faced harassment by other students. Just like Himley, the Edwards were fighting for a more welcoming environment for all transgender and gender non-conforming students.
"Discrimination against transgender students is not only hurtful and wrong, it is also expensive.” 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 https://t.co/yWBKWGjmsa— David Aron (@David Aron) 1616525095.0
How many lawsuits does Anoka Hennepin school district have to lose before they finally get it? https://t.co/pPCxAFA3lo— linda freemon (@linda freemon) 1616525990.0
Thankfully, Himley's win for transgender students in Minnesota is coming at a time when trans youth face attacks on their human rights by Republicans.
Gender Justice said in a statement:
"Over the past year, we've seen a growing wave of political attacks against the rights of transgender children to health care, education, or even to play sports."
CURRENT STATUS of Anti-trans sports bills across the United States: #LetKidsPlay https://t.co/wQvOMeYCtp— The Chris Mosier (@The Chris Mosier) 1616241989.0
It is truly grotesque how much the @ncgop is obsessed with being virulently anti-trans. That this bill is an attemp… https://t.co/zmhq7hjoUV— Carl Newman (@Carl Newman) 1616542775.0
Them: “Trans girls shouldn’t be allowed in girl sports bc they have a biological advantage born as male.” Me: “So… https://t.co/AV8E2CeTXV— Chlöe, without the umlaut (@Chlöe, without the umlaut) 1616263681.0
ridiculous laws forcing trans teens, or adults, to compete in gendered sports teams based on the sex they were assi… https://t.co/qwba1mvSHZ— Dana Aliya Levinson (@Dana Aliya Levinson) 1616508726.0
Please read this excellent piece. These kids are no threat to anyone. Republican anti-trans bills are purely fear a… https://t.co/nEbANcYC8l— Joyce Millman (@Joyce Millman) 1615840782.0
The oppressive anti-trans bills proposed by some Republican legislators are not conservative. They are wide expansi… https://t.co/d89kZhZNeZ— Elad Gross 🇺🇸 (@Elad Gross 🇺🇸) 1615405012.0
Quote of the day from the states, from a Kansas Republican joining Democrats to oppose discriminatory anti-trans le… https://t.co/6eRz8qp1e5— Will Vandenberg (aka Bill) (@Will Vandenberg (aka Bill)) 1615984233.0
Hopefully, Himley's win is just the first of many for trans students fighting for their rights in such a volatile political climate.