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Two high school boys won their case to participate in girls' dance competitions in Minnesota, a federal appeals court decided.
The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the Minnesota State High School League could not deny the boys based on their gender. In D.M. v. Minnesota State High School League, the appeals panel said it was unconstitutional to ban them from competition.
It was a significant turn-around because a trial judge had ruled against the teens. But the appeals court said the league would need an "exceedingly persuasive justification" for prohibiting the boys from dancing on the girls' teams.
Dmitri Moua and Zachary Greenwald are juniors at Roseville and Hopkins high schools. They wanted to join the dance competition, but the league rejected them.
So they sued, saying the league was discriminating against them based on their sex. Judge Paul Magnuson denied their request for an injunction, however, ruling the league would suffer "extensive, if not irreparable" harm by letting the boys in.
The Eighth Circuit reversed. The appeals court said that banning boys would harm them instead, and that the league did not show girls were underrepresented in high school athletics.
"The League cannot prohibit boys from participating on girls' teams unless it has some other exceedingly persuasive justification for doing so," Judge Michael Melloy wrote for the court.
Caleb Randall Trotter, a California attorney who represented the boys, said it was a long road for the teens.
"They've had to miss three seasons of dance already, but today's decision means they won't have to miss a fourth and final season," Trotter told the Star Tribune.
According to the newspaper, Minnesota is the only state in the country that bars boys from competing in high school dance competitions.
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