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Lawmaker Targets H.S. Sports League After Passage of Transgender Policy

State Rep. Joyce Peppin, who is set to become Minnesota's House Majority Leader next month, voiced her opposition to the Minnesota State High School League's new policy on transgender student-athletes this past weekend, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.

On Thursday, the board of the Minnesota State High School League overwhelmingly voted to approve a policy allowing transgender student-athletes to compete on sports teams that align with their gender identity beginning next school year. Under the new policy, a transgender student-athlete and his or her parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must notify the school in writing that "the student has a consistent gender identity or that the gender identity is sincerely held as part of the student's core identity" that differs from the student-athlete's gender identity assigned at birth. The appeal must include a written statement "affirming consistent gender-related identity and expression to which the student self-relates," along with a written statement from a health-care professional and statements from other parents, friends, and/or teachers.

Upon receiving the appeal, the state high school league will assign an independent hearing officer to review the information. That officer's decision will be binding until the state league's next board of directors meeting.

Peppin doesn't appear to agree with the board's decision to approve the policy as is.

"I think that if folks don't like their decision, they ought to have an opportunity of some redress of grievances," she told a group of Republican supporters over the weekend, MPR reported.

Peppin expressed concern both about the policy itself and about the league's lack of legislative oversight, according to MPR, though she hasn't countered with an alternative policy proposal.

The state representative wasn't the only one in Minnesota bothered by the new policy, as my colleague Mark Walsh reported on the Education and the Media blog. The Minnesota Child Protection League ran two full-page advertisements in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in recent months, encouraging members of the public to attend last Thursday's board meeting and voice their opposition accordingly.

According to The Uptake, Minn. Gov. Mark Dayton offered his support following the passage of the policy last week, saying, "I don't know the details of the policy, but I applaud the league for taking this on in a very serious, careful-minded way from what I understand of it. If this is correct, it's inclusive in a responsible way that they should be... again, I would applaud them for doing so."

He also condemned the tactics used by those who opposed the policy—presumably in reference to the Child Protection League—calling their tactics "hate-mongering" and "despicable."

"I can't comprehend... how some people in this state can want to spend their time on something that's that destructive to other people's lives and misstate it in such a way that is really appalling," the governor said.

Based on the conflicting comments from lawmakers, it appears that the MSHSL's passage of this policy could draw some legislative attention in the coming months.

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