GOP bill would roll back transgender student-athlete policy

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Republican lawmakers in the Minnesota Legislature want to undo a policy that allows transgender high school students who were born male to play on female sports teams.

More than 20 legislators from the House and Senate introduced a measure Monday to roll back a policy that was approved by the Minnesota State High School League and is set to take effect in the fall.

The policy, which was approved by the MSHSL board in December, allows student-athletes to play for the team that matches the gender they identify with. It would apply to the 500 or so schools that are members of the league.

The policy applies to students born male who identify as female and want to participate on girls' athletic teams. State law already allows girls to participate on boys' teams.

The issue stirred a lot of passionate debate when it was first introduced, with hundreds of people showing up at several league board meetings and sending thousands of emails to board members.

Supporters said the policy is necessary for student-athletes who identify as transgender to feel safe, while opponents said it puts other female athletes at risk and invades their privacy.

The Minnesota Child Protection League, based in Mankato, took out two full-page ads in the Star Tribune last fall to express its opposition to the transgender policy. Here's one of them.

The GOP lawmakers said Monday they're introducing the repeal because they believe the high school league ignored the concerns of opponents, the Associated Press reports.

Their bill defines a person's sex as" the physical condition of being male or female, which is genetically determined by a person's chromosomes and is identified at birth by a person's anatomy."

It also states that boys and girls must use separate restrooms, locker rooms and shower rooms.

One of the bill's sponsors, Sen. David Brown, R-Becker, called it "common sense," according to MPR News.

"The vast majority of Minnesotans who have been polled are in support of not allowing the biological sexes to be mixed in these environments," said Brown.

OutFront Minnesota, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, said it strongly opposes the bill, claiming it would "single out trans youth and permanently deny them the ability to take part in their school's activities, and use the facilities, as the gender they live every day."

The head of the MSHSL declined to comment on the bill, according to the Star Tribune.

It's unclear whether the measure will get very far in the current legislative session. No committees in either house have scheduled a hearing on the issue and there are no DFL sponsors, according to the AP.

Thirty-two other states and the NCAA all have a policy or procedure in place for determining transgender students’ eligibility to participate in sports.

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