GOP lawmakers try again to limit transgender students' access to Michigan school sports

April 28, 2022, 1:08 PM

Republican state representatives want to bar transgender athletes from female public school athletic teams, a hot button issue nationally this year.

(Photo: Michigan High School Athletic Association)

Bridge Michigan takes a look:

After a Senate effort to limit opportunities for transgender athletes stalled last year, state Republicans found a new vehicle: the state budget.

The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee advanced a K-12 school aid budget late Wednesday that includes language requiring school districts and intermediate school districts to prohibit what the measure refers to as "boys" from competing on girls' or women's teams. 

Though the language doesn’t include the word "transgender," it's clear who it is meant to apply to, said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan's LGBT Project. ... "This is about transgender girls." ...

At least 13 other states have enacted laws governing the participation of transgender athletes.

The Lansing publication quotes the Michigan House committee chair and a Democrat opposing the move:

"There are advantages that men have biologically that gives them an advantage when it comes to competitive sports. Just physically, we're stronger. We're faster, and I just don't think it's fair for girls. I think it puts them at a competitive disadvantage," [Rep. Thomas] Albert said at the committee hearing. "I just want my daughters to have the same opportunities as my sons." ...

Rep. Regina Weiss, D-Oak Park, ... called the measure’s language "needlessly cruel" and said it didn't belong in a budget bill.

"Being a kid is hard enough, especially in today's world. When kids are growing up and figuring out who they are, the last thing they need is a bunch of adults trying to shame them, segregate and marginalize them," Weiss said.

A Senate Appropriations Committee version of the school aid budget says nothing about young athletes' gender, Bridge says.

If the transgender athlete provision makes it into the final budget passed by both chambers, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could intervene. The governor can declare measures within budget proposals unconstitutional or unenforceable, as Whitmer did last year with provisions related to mask and vaccine orders.

Kaplan of the ACLU sees political posturing by Republicans:

"This helps them firm up their political base to get out the vote, and it helps them fundraise, but the impact is to further marginalize transgender kids. These politicians have decided that their own political power is more important than the well-being of transgender youth."

A Democrat from Taylor who's on the House Education Committee member tweets: 

Read more:  Bridge Michigan

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