Teen fights for right to dance competitively in Minnesota after being banned from competition

PHOTO: Kaiden Johnson practices in a dance studio in this undated photo.PlayPacific Legal Foundation
WATCH Teen fights for right to dance competitively in Minnesota after being banned from competition

Kaiden Johnson has been dancing since he was 5 years old. Now a sophomore at Superior High School in Wisconsin, Kaiden competes on the dance team.

“When I started dancing I knew it was something I really wanted to pursue,” Kaiden, now 15, says in a video posted to Pacific Legal Foundation’s YouTube page on Oct. 10.

Last fall, the Superior High School dance team competed in a competition in Duluth, Minnesota. Right before Kaiden’s team was set to go on, he was told he couldn’t compete because of a policy from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), a nonprofit association that facilitates interscholastic activities in the state.

PHOTO: Kaiden Johnson practices in a dance studio in this undated photo. Pacific Legal Foundation
Kaiden Johnson practices in a dance studio in this undated photo.

Under the rules of the MSHSL, boys are not allowed to compete on the girls' dance team. But the MSHSL does not offer a boys dance team.

“I believe everyone should have the right to do what they want and do what they love. I don’t think it should be based off if you’re a boy or girl,” Kaiden says in the video.

An MSHSL spokesperson declined ABC News’ request for comment.

This past summer, Joshua Thompson, senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, read an article about Kaiden. He then reached out to his family to try and help.

“It struck me as a sad story of a boy who has been dancing his whole life and didn’t get the opportunity to do what he loves,” Thompson told ABC News.

PHOTO: Kaiden Johnson practices in a dance studio in this undated photo. Pacific Legal Foundation
Kaiden Johnson practices in a dance studio in this undated photo.

On Oct. 9, lawyers at Pacific Legal sent a cease-and-desist letter to the MSHSL and offered the organization 30 days to scrap the policy.

While the league did not comply, Kaiden’s school decided to have the dance team compete in the Wisconsin league instead where boys are allowed to dance on the girl’s team.

It was a win for Kaiden, who could finally dance competitively for his team. However, he decided he still wanted to pursue legal action against the MSHSL.

PHOTO: Kaiden Johnson practices in a dance studio in this undated photo. Pacific Legal Foundation
Kaiden Johnson practices in a dance studio in this undated photo.

“I know a lot of boys who want to dance in Minnesota, and I think if I open the door or if I motivate something in the works to allow them to dance I think I’ll feel almost complete and did something besides just dance,” Kaiden says in the video.

On Nov. 14, Kaiden’s lawyers filed a formal complaint with the Office for Civil Rights with the U.S. Department of Education. The complaint alleges the MSHSL’s policy is discriminatory and violates Title IX.

When asked for comment by ABC News, the Office for Civil Rights said it “does not acknowledge complaints unless and until they have been accepted for investigation.”