Two house bills HF 1546 and 1547 were introduced in the Minnesota State House of Representatives this week; both are companion bills to the Senate bill SF 1543 introduced on Monday. Collectively, the House File bills have 19 Republican co-authors.
Both houses file bills will again attempt to codify into law that for the purpose of public schools, that sex and gender are those assigned to a person at birth. The bills would define ‘sex’ to mean “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.”
Both bills would also attempt to reverse the Minnesota State High School League’s Transgender Athletic Policy passed in December of 2014 and nullify all Gender Inclusive policies in effect statewide, including the policy that is expected to pass on March 17th by the St. Paul Public School Board.
Representative Tim Miller [R] told the Minnesota Family Council, “I decided to bring this bill forward because I am a dad and grandpa. I have also been a coach. I am 100% unapologetically[sic] for protecting the safety, privacy, and dignity of all of our students both on and off the field. Passing the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act will accomplish this.”
Senator Brown, chief author of the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act, told the CPL [PAC] “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.”
It seems as though either Senator Brown or the CPL [PAC] have misinterpreted their own words by saying, “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…” If I identify as a male and I have a female body? If this is the level of leadership in charge of the House and Senate, then it becomes very obvious that these legislators are heavily influenced not by the people they represent, but from well funded organizations like CPL [PAC], MN Family Council and the MN Catholic Conference pushing their version of morality.
Leading the charge behind these bills are the Child Protection League PAC [CPL PAC], the Minnesota Family Council [MNFC] and the MN Catholic Conference. I reached out to Michelle Lentz of the CPL PAC and she stated, “We believe this legislation provides the protection that all students deserve. It allows schools to address with compassion and sensitivity the needs of a student in special circumstances where special accommodations may be needed, while at the same time addressing the needs of all students to have their privacy respected.”
The CPL PAC and MNFC have been citing a specific poll taken across the state which has become the base of these sudden attacks on the transgender community. According to a recent Minnesota poll, it allegedly “confirmed that an overwhelming 90% of voters agree that students have the right to privacy in bathrooms, locker rooms and showers, with facilities that separate biological males and females.” However, these numbers have never been duplicated or verified by any other poll taken in Minnesota.
The poll also contends that the poll has broad bipartisan support from 76% of the voters: 94% of Republicans, 75% of Independents and 64% of Democrat voters. The poll, as well as others taken by the CPL [PAC], claim that the numbers come from “400 registered voters” in the state of Minnesota and it’s alleged that all 400 participants are directly related to the CPL [PAC] and the questions were slanted to solicit these types of responses.
In an email from OutfrontMN this morning, they state, “The opposition has introduced these negative bills, which are harmful and discriminatory, to further their own political agenda. OutFrontMN staff will work all session to raise awareness of, and support for, transgender people so that legislators understand how damaging these bills are and how important it is to block them.
I also reached out to Monica Meyer, Executive Director of OutfrontMN, the leading LGBT organization in the state, and she responded, “OutFront Minnesota believes that all students deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. No one should be discriminated against because of who they are. That’s why we strongly oppose Minnesota Senate File 1543. This bill would single out transgender youth and permanently deny them the ability to take part in their school’s activities, and use the facilities. It would take away local control from schools who want to be safe, supportive and inclusive.”
According to a recent Pew Poll, only 8% of American’s know a person that is transgender compared to 90% of people who know someone that is Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual. That chasm is large enough to frighten the general public enough to pressure legislators to enact laws discriminating against people who are transgender.
“I don’t think anybody would mind if a transgender kid was given private accommodations.” Jack Tomczak, host of the ‘Up and At Em’ Radio Show on Twin Cities News Talk AM1130 stated in an email to me, “I believe the concern of the CPL is about biological males being in the same locker room as biological females. As a parent, that’s my concern.”
What is it about people who are transgender that the general public just doesn’t understand I asked? Jack Tomczak summed it up in a single word, “Everything.”
Currently, Minnesota is working under a divided government with the Republicans taking control of the House in 2014 [72 GOP vs. 62 DFL] and the DFL maintaining its majority in the Senate [39 DFL vs. 28 GOP], as there was no Senate elections in 2014. DFL Governor Mark Dayton won his second term keeping the Democratic Party firmly in control of the state.
It would be unlikely that any of these bills get passed through the Senate and put forward for the governors signature, however, the fear is that these bills could be attached to omnibus spending bills at the end of the session as amendments, thus creating somewhat of a legislative gridlock within days of the sessions closing.