01/29/2011

LGBT Students’ Rights Restored after Agreement Reached in Minnesota School District Case

Less than 24 hours after filing a lawsuit to restore the rights of two lesbian students at a high school in Minnesota, the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with their co-counsels, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Faegre & Benson, LLP, reached an agreement with the Anoka-Hennepin School District and Champlin Park High School.

The agreement ensures the students, Desiree (“Dez”) Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom, will be able to participate as a couple in their school’s Snow Days winter event. The agreement was explained in a joint press statement from Sarah Lindstrom, Desiree Shelton, their counsel, and the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Champlin Park High School, Principal Michael George, Superintendent Dennis Carlson, and their counsel.

This is a joint press statement from Sarah Lindstrom, Desiree Shelton, their counsel, and the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Champlin Park High School, Principal Michael George, Superintendent Dennis Carlson, and their counsel.

All parties are pleased to announce that we have worked together, collaboratively, to arrive at an arrangement for introductions of elected royalty that is respectful and inclusive of all students. Each member of Royalty Court will select a meaningful person in their life to escort him or her in the coronation procession following introductions at this year’s Pep Fest. This will enable Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton to walk together in the processional.

The school district and its administrators and staff view this arrangement as an opportunity for ongoing conversation about school events and activities and for consideration of other ideas that will make our school communities inclusive and will enable us to realize the district-wide objective of honoring all students. District administrators and staff will include all students, including LGBT students, in that conversation. Sarah and Dez are pleased with this positive outcome and gratified by the school district’s commitment to honoring all students.

The lawsuit will be dismissed amicably without admissions of fault or wrongdoing and without further proceedings or expense to either side. The parties wish to acknowledge and appreciate the role played by Minnesota Federal District Court Judge Susan R. Nelson in facilitating the conversation leading to this resolution.

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