Lesbian Couple and MN High School Reach a Mediated(?) Settlement in Snow Festival Case

A lesbian couple settled their lawsuit against their Minnesota high school and school district over the weekend according to the ABA Journal and Minnesota papers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Minneapolis Star Tribune. 

The students had sued for the right to walk into their school’s Snow Days Pep Fest as a couple after both were elected to the royalty court.  Previously couples had walked in together, however, after the girls were elected, their school changed the policy to say that students should walk in with a parent or teacher.   Within a day after the suit was filed the parties met to mediate before U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson.  The students dismissed their suit after the school agreed to allow all the members of the royalty court to walk in with someone meaningful in their life.   

I was interested in the wording of the articles and the joint press release.  The newspapers and the ABA journal reported this as a mediation and referred to the participants as mediating “before” Judge Nelson.  In the joint press release issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center the term mediation is not used. The articles discusses collaboration between the parties and ends with the statement: 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.

I’m not sure if this was a settlement conference called mediation or it was an informal or formal mediation, but  I found the word choices interesting. 

I’m happy to report that today, according to the AP, the young women walked into their Snow  Days Pep Fest together to applause from the audience.

The press release is here: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/agreement-reached-in-minnesota-school-district-case

One thought on “Lesbian Couple and MN High School Reach a Mediated(?) Settlement in Snow Festival Case”

  1. Sounds like this is a good potential example to use to give life to the debate about the merits of ADR vs. impact litigation in civil rights situations. From a national and civil rights perspective, I bet a lot of activists wish this had gone to court and ideally been found to vindicate the absolute RIGHT of the couple to enter together, just like any other couple. But from an individual stakeholder satisfaction perspective, it seems that this outcome was more immediately gratifying. Thank you for sharing this!

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