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.
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."
Hopefully, Himley's win is just the first of many for trans students fighting for their rights in such a volatile political climate.