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Minn. Lawmakers Attempting to Reverse Transgender Student-Athlete Policy

In December, the Minnesota State High School League approved a policy that would allow transgender student-athletes in the state to compete on sports teams that align with their gender identity, beginning in the 2015-16 school year. Republican lawmakers in the state, however, have other ideas.

A coalition of eight Republican senators and 17 representatives introduced companion bills in their respective chambers Monday, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that would undo the state high school league's new policy. If passed, students would only be allowed to participate on sports teams that align with their sex, which the bill describes 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." Under the bill, public school restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, and shower rooms must all "be designated for the exclusive use by students of the male sex only or by students of the female sex only."

The bill's lead author, Rep. Tim Miller, explained to Simons why the legislature was dipping its toes into these waters.

"I do as a matter of fact think it's the responsibility of the legislature to determine these things," Miller said. "We fund public education here in the state of Minnesota and I believe that because of that, we have a responsibility for the safety and physical privacy of students that attend our schools."

Sen. David Brown, who's sponsoring the bill in the Senate, told Minnesota Public Radio why he's gotten involved.

"We think it's a common sense issue," Brown said. "The vast majority of Minnesotans who have been polled are in support of not allowing the biological sexes to be mixed in these environments."

The bill is already meeting some opposition, however. Sen. Scott Dibble, who authored the state's Safe Schools Act that extended anti-bullying protections to transgender students, expressed his concern about the legislation to the Star Tribune.

"I'm not concerned whether it will move and pass, because I don't think it's going to," Dibble said. "But what concerns me is you've got a bill like this introduced by officials with the state of Minnesota, responsible adults, and it sends a highly negative message. It fans the flames of hysteria and gives young transgender people and their families a negative message of who they are. That's a really big problem."

Chuck Wiger, the chairman of the state's Senate education committee, told the Star Tribune that he isn't sure whether he'll schedule a hearing for the bill.

"I would hear both sides, but I believe the High School League has addressed it," the paper said. "To me it's time to move on."

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