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Freddie Linden Dakota Valley

Freddie Linden

NORTH SIOUX CITY -- Freddie Linden and other high school boys in South Dakota can join girls on competitive dance teams.

Linden, who will be a sophomore at Dakota Valley High School in the fall, had sued the South Dakota High School Activities Association, seeking to overturn a rule that forbid mixed gender teams in state-sanctioned tournaments.

In a 7-0 vote on Tuesday, the SDHSAA voted to allow both boys and girls to participate in the sport of competitive dance during the 2018-19 season.

SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos said the change is a "fair compromise, in that it allows participation for next school year, while also directing action through the established process for rule changes that already exists."

Freddie's mother, Stephanie Linden on Tuesday said she was pleased with the state change, saying the timing of the decision was fortunate, with Dakota Valley dance team tryouts happening this week.

"We are very excited that Freddie will be able to dance for Dakota Valley this upcoming year. We applaud the SDHSAA for doing the right thing in suspending their rule that bans boys from dancing on school teams," Stephanie Linden said.

The approved measure read, “to suspend the restriction of requirement that only females may compete in competitive dance for the 2018-19 school year, allow boys and girls to participate alongside one another in competitive dance, and direct the Dance Advisory Committee to study the issue during the intervening year and recommend language specific to the issue that must ultimately be considered and approved by the membership and Board of Directors.”

Stephanie Linden previously said the family filed the lawsuit against SDHSAA in April after they were left with no other choice.

"Dakota Valley is in support of Freddie dancing on the team. Their hands are tied, as they must follow the law," Stephanie Linden previously told the Journal.

The legal action was taken through the Pacific Legal Foundation. The firm has a history of taking on personal liberty cases, to support "peoples’ right to freely associate and express themselves," according to its website.

From here, the South Dakota agency will work through the competitive dance advisory committee, the association member school athletic directors, and, ultimately, the SDHSAA Board of Directors, Swartos said.

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County and education reporter

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