School treated Gay Student Alliance differently than other student groups

Case Description

Our long-standing Straights and Gays for Equality student group case has finally ended in victory for our clients. Groups like SAGE work to promote tolerance and to ensure that traditionally marginalized students feel safe and valued at school. In 2009, the Osseo School District finally gave in to the inevitable and decided not to appeal the latest ruling against it after sustaining legal losses at nearly every turn. The Osseo School District has been forced to change its policies and treat all non-curricular school groups equitably.

Case Timeline:

In April 2006, the ACLU of Minnesota won a preliminary injunction requiring the Osseo Area School District to provide equal treatment to the Straights and Gays for Equality (SAGE) student group. The ACLU of Minnesota filed the suit in September 2005 following nearly two years of discussion with the school district over its policy toward SAGE. In her ruling, Judge Erickson ordered the school to treat SAGE like any other student group when it came to access for meetings, avenues for communication, and rights afforded to other student groups. The judge went on to rule that there was a likelihood that the ACLU of Minnesota suit would ultimately be successful and issued a preliminary injunction to prevent "irreparable harm" from befalling the group while the case ran its course. After the ruling, the school district filed an appeal and three separate motions -one with a district court and two in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals- to have the injunction stayed pending an appeal. All three motions were denied.

In May 2007, the ACLU of Minnesota brought a motion to strike witnesses from testifying because the defendants had not previously named the witnesses during discovery. The names of 25 witnesses -all teachers at Maple Grove High School- were submitted to the court the day after discovery ended. The plaintiffs had previously requested teachers from the school to appear as witnesses but were told by the defendants they could not release the names of the witness for privacy reasons. The magistrate granted ACLU-MN's motion and struck the witnesses from testifying.

In September 2007, the Osseo School District once again appealed the district court, this time against a permanent injunction.

Attorney(s)

Tom Kayser, Genevieve Zimmerman, and David Pinto from Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P.

Date filed

Court

Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals

Status

Victory!

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