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A group opposed to LGBT rights, as well as a group of Republican lawmakers, told a conservative Christian radio host that a lawsuit may be filed against the Minnesota State High School League over a policy that allows schools to include transgender students in athletics and extracurricular activities.

Michele Lentz of the Child Protection League spoke with Paul Ridgeway of AM 980 KKMS’ On the Way with Ridgeway program on Friday, Nov. 5. In the interview, Lentz told Ridgeway that her group is asking school not to implement the transgender-inclusive policy because they could be sued. She said there were “legal implications” to the policy:

Lentz: Schools should not adopt this policy and put it in their handbooks. We urge them: comply with the law that protects girls sports and that also respects the physical privacy of boys and girls… Put this back on the MSHSL, and allow them to carry the brunt of the full liability and the judicial consequences of having to apply this policy through the appeals process…

The battle has been moved down to the school board level, to the school level schools are in a conflict because right now some state laws say you can have separate sports — boys’ teams and girls’ teams — and now we have this policy that says if a student is determined to be transgender — let’s use the example of here’s where this policy applies: If it’s a boy who feels like he’s a girl and they determine that he sincerely believes he’s a girl, then he gets to play on the girls’ team. These two laws are coming now head-to-head and schools are put in the predicament of making that decision. We say put that right back on the MSHSL abide by the law says teams are separated by sex and let the MSHSL through the appeals process make a determination that a student is transgender and then they will say then if he’s transgender he gets to play but the the legal implications of that will fall on the MSHSL and not on the schools who didn’t make the determination….

This turns that on its head and the legal implication.. this is not done yet… I mean there are legal implications that are going to come into play.

Ridgeway then asked Lentz directly if her organization would sue over the policy. Lentz replied that the group is launching a petition before it files suit:

Ridgeway: Michele is your organization going to have a lawsuit against the Minnesota State High School League? I hope or somebody is.

Lentz: The first thing we are doing is we have are putting on our website a petition that parents can sign that everybody can sign that says, I don’t have the exact wording but that take the stand that boys are not allowed to play on biological girls teams. Let’s continue to build our army of people who stand against this proposal and now this policy and continue to build our ability to communicate with one another and then as we make plans going forward and how to address this in the future what can we do since this won’t be imp until the 105 school year this policy could still change over the course of the next years we have to be vigilant and we have to stay informed, and then take action where action becomes available for us, so the petition is first.

In an interview with Matt Barber, a spokesperson for the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel, Lentz again alluded to a lawsuit:

“Aside from violating the law, this policy is an aggressive and hostile act against Minnesota’s children, families and the public, violating every principle of human biology and reason. This policy,” she continued “has nothing to do with what is best for Minnesota children, transgender or not. The MSHSL has chosen to be complicit in a nation-wide design to quickly impose a false interpretation of the anti-discrimination laws upon us, dishonestly insisting this is what the law requires, and to do it as fast as possible, before public resistance can grow.”

We strongly advise schools not to adopt the MSHSL criteria or insert it to their handbooks,” stated Lentz. “We urge them to comply with the law that protects girls’ sports and that also respects the physical privacy of both boys and girls, privacy which will inevitably be compromised by adopting the MSHSL view of the law. Let transgender students appeal to the MSHSL as this policy establishes, and let the MSHSL be fully liable for the legal and judicial consequences that are soon to come. The MSHSL does not have the authority to overrule state law.

Republican leadership in the Legislature have threatened legal or oversight measures against the new policy. On Saturday, Rep. Joyce Peppin, a Republican from Rogers suggested to a group of GOP activists that the MSHSL should have legislative oversight because they passed the policy.

Rep. Peggy Scott, a Republican from Andover, told host Paul Ridgeway she thought there would be a lawsuit challenging the trans-inclusive policy.

Ridgeway: You’re chairing the civil law committee, was it legal what they did?

Scott: Well, I think that is… Well that will probably be debated in the court of law eventually, I believe there probably will be a lawsuit sooner or later on this issue.

Next, Ridgeway interviewed Sen. Warren Limmer, a Republican from Maple Grove:

Ridgeway: Sen. Limmer, I know we’ve talked about this, but don’t you think this is the height of insanity?

Limmer: You know Paul, it brings me to that old adage, ‘don’t confuse me with facts and logic’…

Ridgeway: Amen.

Limmer: …when it comes to anything that goes on in government these days.

I might add that we have two state statutes that are on the books. The first one says — the statute speaks of conditional permission to have individuals that play on those teams, the athletes to be separated or substantially separated according to sex, and the other one is to… it allows athletes and teams to restrict membership on an athletics team to participants of one sex. This is all coming out of the gay agenda, they’re moving forward to take away the separation… differences that we all recognize between the sexes. They want to blur the lines so that they can advance their agenda and advance the acceptance, through law, of their lifestyle.

Ridgeway: Yeah, you know, you are right on.

Limmer then said that the Legislature should have reviewed the trans-inclusive policy:

Limmer: The point that we have to recognize in this whole process is that the Minnesota High School Board or League is an appointed body. They are not elected and they passed a rule. We allow rule-making of agencies so that they can streamline and modernize their operation so that every little thing that comes along in their responsibility, they don’t have to run back to the Legislature to get a change in the law, but this is drastically different. This is a major step. This is an issue of the first order for our children and this is an issue that should be decided by the Legislature who are elected, not appointed and quite honestly they made a rule that’s contrary to what is existing law. There is a conflict now between how the citizens of our state should act. Do we follow the rules established by the unelected high school league? Or do we follow what’s already in law? And that’s to recognize sports teams from public schools can be and should be separated by sex. So they’ve gone a major step away from the rule of law and that’s the major difference that they have created. They have created an amazing conflict in the law.

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

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