Minnesota GOP lawmakers want to undo transgender student athletics rule

Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul.

Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul. Teresa Boardman

ST. PAUL, Minn. — More than 20 Republican legislators want to stop transgender students born as male from playing on girls’ sports teams, undoing a state high school league vote that drew fervent support and opposition last year.

Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul.

Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul.

Minnesota State High School League member schools must allow transgender students born male to play on female teams starting with the 2015-2016 school year, though religiously affiliated private schools will be exempt. Girls are already allowed on boys’ teams under state law.

The high school league didn’t give opponents’ views enough weight when it voted nearly unanimously in December to adopt the new policy, said Sen. David Brown, chief author of the bill in the Senate. The Becker Republican said it may not actually help transgender students because it opens them up to more bullying and privacy issues.

“If you identify as a male and you’re in a locker room and you’re undressing and you’re the only female body in there, you think you’re not going to have some fallback from that?” Brown said. “Or vice versa, you’re the only one with a male body in an all-female locker room. I think it’s only going to enhance their problems.”

Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, said the bill discriminates against transgender youth. Some schools are already working out policies to accommodate transgender students, she said.

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“To put undue restrictions on them, that’s just not good policy-making on the state level,” Meyer said.

Brown’s bill introduced Monday would also specify locker rooms and bathrooms for multiple students only be accessible by the sexes they’re specifically for. Schools could still provide accommodations like single-person bathrooms.

The House and Senate bills have no Democratic supporters and no committee hearings scheduled.

Gov. Mark Dayton declined to comment on the bill until he’s reviewed it, other than to say: “I thought the action of the board was courageous and it seemed appropriate to me.”

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