Male High School Student Banned From Participating in Girls Dance Team Competition

A boy's silhouette with a red slash through it. Beneath the image are the words "no boys."

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Superior High School in Superior, Wisconsin, has no problem with a boy on their varsity dance team. Kaiden Johnson, a sophomore, loves to dance and does it very well. But when it came time for his team to compete at the Minnesota State High School League competition, he wasn’t allowed. He was there, in costume, and prepared with his female teammates, when judges told him he could not participate.

The League deems it “Girls Dance Team” on their website. An official of the League said last year (before this incident) that it would be impossible to change the rule because girls-only teams are intended to balance high school sports boys teams, as required by federal law Title IX, which addresses discrimination in educational institutions. But Title IX doesn’t have a separate-but-equal clause, according to the complaint filed on Johnson’s behalf. It specifies that no school or part of a school (such as a team) which receives federal funding can discriminate based on sex.

Johnson and his family enlisted help from the nonprofit Pacific Legal Foundation to intervene with the U.S. Department of Education and the League on his behalf.

“The Minnesota league cannot continue to discriminate by banning boys from competitive dancing. Title IX’s requirement for equal opportunity for all students, regardless of sex, is crystal clear. Schools cannot tell either boys or girls, ‘you’re the wrong sex, therefore, no dancing for you,’” said Joshua Thompson, senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, in a news release.

“I believe everybody should have the right to do what they want and what they love,” the same release quoted Johnson as saying. “I don’t believe it should be based on whether you’re a boy or a girl.” There is no opportunity for boys to compete in intramural dance in either Minnesota or Wisconsin.

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Midterm Tips for Teachers

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With winter break only a few weeks away, it’s about that point in the school year when students become stressed and overwhelmed with midterms. It’s time to check in with students on how they’re handling their workload. If they are worried or struggling, here are a few ideas that may help.

1. Create An Even Workload

Assigning lots of homework at the last minute will always be tempting, but it means there’s no time left to course-correct if something goes wrong. Evenly space out study sessions so that it’s an attainable workload. Also, don’t be too rigid with when study sessions have to be. Students have lives outside of school, and they appreciate flexibility.

2. Schedule Breaks

Recharge breaks are important, and with practice can become a a healthy habit. Giving your students a break every half hour or so is vital to retaining focus and attention. Take five, listen to a quick podcast, stretch, or have a snack.

3. Clarify Instructions

This one seems obvious, but it bears reinforcing. Remind your student to make certain that they fully understand their assignment. This is a skill (or perhaps just a habit) that will carry over to test-taking, and will serve your students well into the future.

4. Exercise A Little Leniency 

Students make mistakes; it’s part of learning. But instead of chastising them for it, help them develop a system for learning from those mistakes. Build study guides out of failed tests. Keep a notebook of missed problems and see if your student can track for themselves where they need more work and where they just need to pay more attention. Encourage them to revisit problem topics.

5. Teach Students About Anxiety

Nerves go hand-in-hand with mistakes. American schools are so score-oriented that mistakes can often feel oversized and overwhelming to students. This creates fear, which they’ll carry forward into future tests and assignments. If you notice your student struggling with anxiety, teach them how to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Explain to them how mental health and emotional health can impact academic performance.

Best Art Colleges on the West Coast

A photo of college-age students collaborating on a school project. The words "creative thinking college" are superimposed on the image.

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Thinking about attending art school? Here are some of the best art colleges on the West Coast, broken down by state.

Washington

Cornish College of the Arts
Smack dab in the center of Seattle’s metropolitan hub is an internationally acclaimed institution known as Cornish College of the Arts. This fully accredited university offers BFA degrees in art, dance, design, music, performance production, and theater. The only downside is that Cornish doesn’t offer MFA degrees.

Oregon

Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA)
Located in downtown Portland, PNCA is a private, accredited institution that specializes in fine arts and design. Distinguished alumni include Mary Mattingly, Logan Lynn, and Julian Voss-Andreae. PNCA is known for its MFA programs, although the college also offers plenty of undergraduate degrees.

University of Oregon
The University of Oregon came in at number 82 in a U.S. News and World Report on best fine arts schools. With experienced faulty and on-campus galleries, the University of Oregon’s Department of Art equips students with the skills and techniques they need to excel in their creative field. Even better, as a public university, it has a much lower tuition cost than its competitors.

California

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, CalArts is a private university located in Santa Clarita, CA. With alumni like Tim Burton, it’s no wonder that AnimationCareerReview.com ranked CalArts number one in their list of top 25 animation schools and colleges on the West Coast.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles (USC)
Much like CalArts, USC also boasts an impressive list of alumni. George Lucas, Forest Whitaker, Will Ferrell, John Wayne, and Tom Selleck are just a few of the many famous faces that attended school here. If you have an interest in film, this is where you want to be, as USC has one of the highest rated film departments in the entire country.