Transgender student to receive $300K in discrimination suit

Minnesota’s largest school district will pay $300,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit with a transgender student who was barred from using the boys’ locker room.

Nick Himley swam for Coon Rapids High School after he transitioned to male during the 2015-16 school year when he was a 16-year-old freshman. It’s not clear exactly when Himley transitioned.

Initially, he was allowed to use the boys’ locker room in the first half of the year. But by February, the school board barred him from using it and told Himley he would be disciplined if he did so. 

He was then forced to use a segregated locker room that no other students used, causing him mental anguish, his lawyer said. 

As part of the agreement to pay compensation to Himley, the Anoka-Hennepin School District – the largest in Minnesota – also agreed to make several policy changes, including a rule that allows every student to use all facilities consistent with their gender identity.

It also includes a complaint procedure and prohibition on reprisals. Training on the policies will be provided for school board members, staff and students.  

‘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,’ the Himley said in a press release shared by Gender Justice

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The Anoka-Hennepin School District agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit with Nick Himley, a transgender student who was barred from using the boys' locker room

The Anoka-Hennepin School District agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit with Nick Himley, a transgender student who was barred from using the boys' locker room

The Anoka-Hennepin School District agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit with Nick Himley, a transgender student who was barred from using the boys’ locker room 

'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,' the student - identified as Nick Himley - said in a press release

'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,' the student - identified as Nick Himley - said in a press release

‘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,’ the student – identified as Nick Himley – said in a press release

Nick was represented by nonprofit Gender Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and Stinson LLP in his lawsuit. 

According to court documents, the decision from the board was reversed CRHS Principal Curtis Wallrath. Nick’s mom thanked the board but noted that her son to ‘experience emotional trauma.’

As a result, Nick was admitted to the hospital on February 5, 2016, and spent two weeks there ‘due to mental health concerns,’ the court documents read. Nick would have to be readmitted to the hospital on March 2.

Nick swam for Coon Rapids High School in 2015-16 and had used the boys' locker room for much of that season, his attorneys said. That February, the school board stepped in and told the student he would be disciplined if he continued to use the locker room

Nick swam for Coon Rapids High School in 2015-16 and had used the boys' locker room for much of that season, his attorneys said. That February, the school board stepped in and told the student he would be disciplined if he continued to use the locker room

Nick swam for Coon Rapids High School in 2015-16 and had used the boys’ locker room for much of that season, his attorneys said. That February, the school board stepped in and told the student he would be disciplined if he continued to use the locker room

Court documents for the lawsuit that was filed against the district

Court documents for the lawsuit that was filed against the district

Court documents for the lawsuit that was filed against the district 

Over the summer that year, CRHS remodeled its boys’ changing facilities to include a new ‘enhanced policy’ section that was separated and had its own entrance.  

The move from the school board led to bullying and threats against the student and his family, the lawsuit said. The student attended the high school for two years until he and his family made the decision to switch school districts. The complaint was filed in 2019.

‘I’ll be honest, this was a hard experience,’ he said during a Tuesday press conference shared on Facebook. ‘Sometimes I had to spend a lot of time reliving some pretty painful and embarrassing moments. I really put myself out there… but I know that just by standing here and being here, I can make a difference.’

Fielding questions after his brief remarks, Nick described rebelling against the school once he was forbidden from using the boy’s locker room. He said that some of the other students would block him in the segregated locker room and make it difficult for him to get to lunch. Nick said he ‘would have to wait until they left’ before he could go to lunch.

'I'll be honest, this was a hard experience,' he said during a Tuesday press conference. 'Sometimes I had to spend a lot of time reliving some pretty painful and embarrassing moments. I really put myself out there... but I know that just by standing here and being here, I can make a difference'

'I'll be honest, this was a hard experience,' he said during a Tuesday press conference. 'Sometimes I had to spend a lot of time reliving some pretty painful and embarrassing moments. I really put myself out there... but I know that just by standing here and being here, I can make a difference'

‘I’ll be honest, this was a hard experience,’ he said during a Tuesday press conference. ‘Sometimes I had to spend a lot of time reliving some pretty painful and embarrassing moments. I really put myself out there… but I know that just by standing here and being here, I can make a difference’

During the press conference, Megan Peterson, executive director of Gender Justice, opened by expressing 'admiration' for their 'incredible client,' who she described as brave for taking on such a case while only a junior in high school initially

During the press conference, Megan Peterson, executive director of Gender Justice, opened by expressing 'admiration' for their 'incredible client,' who she described as brave for taking on such a case while only a junior in high school initially

During the press conference, Megan Peterson, executive director of Gender Justice, opened by expressing ‘admiration’ for their ‘incredible client,’ who she described as brave for taking on such a case while only a junior in high school initially

During the press conference, Megan Peterson, executive director of Gender Justice, opened by expressing ‘admiration’ for their ‘incredible client,’ who she described as brave for taking on such a case while only a junior in high school initially.

‘It is an incredibly brave step for any kid but in the face of bullying and discrimination by adults whose job it was to support him, Nick spoke up,’ Peterson asserted. 

She added: ‘Discrimination against transgender students is not only hurtful and wrong, it is also expensive.’

The district said in a statement that the state Court of Appeals provided clarity on the matter when it affirmed a district-court decision that kept the suit alive.

‘All legal issues have been resolved,’ the release said.

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