Boys To Be Allowed on Competitive Dance Teams, SDHSAA Lifts Ban
SIOUX FALLS — Competitive dance has been a sanctioned high school sport in South Dakota for a decade. Boys and girls can be on the team, but only girls can actually compete.
The rule sparked a lawsuit last month from a Dakota Valley student, who claimed it infringed on his rights. Fast forward to this week where the activities association voted to change the rule temporarily.
“I’m just happy that they lifted it finally, so I could be on it,” says Tyler Koester.
Koester is a junior at New Technology High School.
He’s elated by the state’s unanimous vote – allowing boys to participate alongside girls in competitive dance events starting next school year. However this rule change is only temporary.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but hopefully after this year they’ll see why boys on this team are very beneficial. We just want them to see we can do exactly what the girls can do,” says Koester.
The move comes after 15-year-old Freddie Linden of Dakota Valley sued the association last month arguing the rule violates his constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection.
Sioux Falls dance instructor Thomas Nguyen says this move raises the bar for the sport.
“I’m just really happy it’s opening door for boys who are involved in the dance world at the high school level,” says Nguyen.
Thomas is a Washington High School grad. He wasn’t able to compete on the girls team years ago. The 25-year old wishes he would have been given the opportunity.
“It was very devastating. I wanted to do their styles. I wanted to do their jazz their lyrical and all of that,” says Nguyen.
However Tyler is trying to pick up where Thomas left off. Tyler’s transferring to Washington in hopes of making history.
“I’ll actually be the first boy that is doing pom and jazz competitively for the first time in Sioux Falls history, so that’s really exciting,” says Koester.
Girl dancers are showing their support. They say they see the benefit of teaming up with boys.
“I think it really adds a level to dancing because sometimes guys do push girls a little bit further, and they become better because of it,” says Danielle Luettel.
The activities association calls the board’s action “a fair compromise.” Many hope it’ll give boys a permanent chance to dance.
Tyler found out Friday night that he did make Washington’s competitive dance team.
The state’s dance advisory committee will study the issue to see if boys should be given their own team or make the activity co-ed permanently after next year.