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In emails to constituents, Republicans are seeking to drum up support for a bill that would bar school from adopting transgender inclusive policies and would repeal a policy by the Minnesota State High School League that allows transgender students to participate in high school sports based on gender.

Many of the Republican lawmakers are touting a mysterious poll conducted by Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, and paid for by an anti-LGBT group, the Minnesota Child Protection League. The Column has repeatedly sought information about the poll including methodology and specific language that was asked of those participating in the poll. The Minnesota Child Protection League has refused to respond to multiple inquiries.

Below are excerpts from emails sent to constituents that were obtained by The Column. We will continue to update the list as more are identified.

Republican Party of Minnesota (PDF version):

As a father, grandfather, and coach, Rep. Tim Miller introduced the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act (HF 1546).

This bill will protect all students’ rights and privacy both in school and in activities, and restores to local school boards and the legislature their role in setting policy on these issues.

The Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act will…

Ensure that schools continue to provide bathrooms and locker rooms separated by biological sex.
Ensure schools can meet individual student needs who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their biological sex by providing access to a private, faculty, or other facility.
Protect all students’ basic physical safety and privacy rights when in personal intimate settings.
Protect the current status of girls’ athletics.
Maintain local control by school boards, and policy oversight by the legislature, with regard to transgender accommodations.
The Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act is in response to the opposition from parents, students, schools, and religious and other groups to the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) recent transgender student athlete policy allowing biological males to participate on girls’ sports teams, and the newly drafted St. Paul schools’ policy that would allow students of any biological sex to use the bathroom and locker room facilities of their gender choice

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (PDF version):

Also this week, I should note, we discussed the recent decision by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) regarding the use of locker rooms by individuals of the opposite sex. This topic which I have heard throughout the district was FALSELY blamed on the legislature. The MSHSL unilaterally decided that children who are not of the same biological sex may share a locker room. This is wrong. A bill to make sure that children who are only of the same sex may use shared facilities was not given a hearing and when brought to the Senate floor, had bipartisan support. Unfortunately our bipartisan support was met with a majority, of 37 Democrat Senators who said they would not support the bill and the motion failed.

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (PDF version):

Reinforcing Our Children’s Safety and Privacy at School
Last week, Senate Republicans introduced the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” to address serious concerns regarding a controversial new policy from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).
In December, the MSHSL issued a new ruling allowing transgender students to play on a sports team other than the team of the student’s biological sex. In effect, it allows male students who identify as female to play on girls sports teams. The ruling was met with resistance from parents and families who were worried about what effect it would have on locker room and shower situations, and how the ruling would impact private and nonpublic schools. Before the final vote on the policy, the MSHSL was presented with a petition of 6,000 names opposing the changes, but the Board proceeded to adopt the plan anyway.
In addition to parent apprehension, the ruling also appears to be in conflict with state law.
I am a co-author to the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act,” SF 1543, that clarifies state law and sends a message to parents that we are listening to their concerns. It is a commonsense bill that protects students’ basic safety and privacy rights by codifying what high schools are already doing. It simply defines who is eligible to participate on school sports teams and requires that schools maintain facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms that are separated based on biological sex. Schools will be able to continue to meet the needs of individual students who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their biological sex by offering access to a private facility.
I wanted to be a co-author of this bill because it is clear Minnesota families are unhappy with the MSHSL decision. A recent statewide poll from Public Opinion Strategies showed only 29 percent of respondents supported the MSHSL ruling, while 76 percent support the changes in our bill. As mother and a grandmother, I share your concerns about the policy. The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” addresses the needs of transgender students while continuing to protect every student’s safety and privacy. The bill has been referred to the Education committee but has yet to receive a hearing

Sen. Paul Gazelka (PDF version):

Reinforcing our children’s safety and privacy at school
On Monday, Senate Republicans introduced the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” to address serious concerns regarding a controversial new policy from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).

Last December, the MSHSL issued a new ruling allowing transgender students to play on a sports team other than the team of the student’s biological sex. In effect, it allows male students who identify as female to play on female sports teams. The ruling was met with resistance from parents and families who were worried about what effect it would have on locker room and shower situations, and how the ruling would impact private and nonpublic schools. Before the final vote on the policy, the MSHSL was presented with a petition of 6,000 names opposing the changes, but the Board proceeded to adopt the plan anyway.

In addition to parent apprehension, the ruling also appears to be in conflict with state statutes. The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act,” which has been assigned Senate File 1543, clarifies state law and sends a message to parents that we are listening to their concerns. It is a common sense bill that protects students’ basic safety and privacy rights by codifying what high schools are already doing. It simply defines who is eligible to participate on school sports teams and requires that schools maintain facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms that are separated based on biological sex. Schools will be able to continue to meet the needs of individual students who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their biological sex by offering access to a private facility.

I support this bill because it is clear Minnesota families are unhappy with the Board’s decision.

A recent statewide poll from Public Opinion Strategies showed only 29 percent of respondents supported the MSHSL ruling, while 76 percent support the changes in our bill. As a father, I share your concerns about the policy. The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” addresses the needs of transgender students while continuing to protect every student’s safety and privacy.

Sen. Dave Thompson (PDF version):

Protecting Minnesota’s School Children
On Monday, Senate Republicans introduced the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” to address serious concerns regarding a controversial new policy from the Minnesota State High School League Last December, the MSHSL issued a ruling that allows transgender students to choose whether to play boys or girls sports based upon gender identity rather than biological sex.Many parents and concerned citizens are worried about an extension of this policy to encompass intimate environments, such as restrooms or locker rooms.

I am a co-author of Senate File 1543, known as The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act.” The bill, if signed into law, simply protects basic safety and privacy rights of students by codifying current school policy. Specifically, the bill protects transgender students by allowing them a separate restroom or changing facility. It protects all students by using biological sex as the determining factor for sports participation and locker room use. I am confident this policy is consistent with the wishes of nearly all Minnesotans.

Sen. Bruce Anderson (PDF version):

On Monday, Senate Republicans introduced the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” to address serious concerns regarding a controversial new policy from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).

Last December, the MSHSL issued a new ruling allowing transgender students to play on a sports team other than the team of the student’s biological sex. In effect, it allows male students who identify as female to play on female sports teams.

The ruling was met with resistance from parents and families who were worried about what effect it would have on locker room and shower situations, and how the ruling would impact private and nonpublic schools. Before the final vote on the policy, the MSHSL was presented with a petition of 6,000 names opposing the changes, but the Board proceeded to adopt the plan anyway.

In addition to parent apprehension, the ruling also appears to be in conflict with state statutes.

The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act,” which has been assigned Senate File 1543, clarifies state law and sends a message to parents that we are listening to their concerns. It is a commonsense bill that protects students’ basic safety and privacy rights by codifying what high schools are already doing. It simply defines who is eligible to participate on school sports teams and requires that schools maintain facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms that are separated based on biological sex. Schools will be able to continue to meet the needs of individual students who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their biological sex by offering access to a private facility.

I support this bill as it is clear Minnesota families are unhappy with the Board’s decision. A recent statewide poll from Public Opinion Strategies showed only 29 percent of respondents supported the MSHSL ruling, while 76 percent support the changes in our bill. As a father, I share your concerns about the policy. The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” addresses the needs of transgender students while continuing to protect every student’s safety and privacy.

Sen. Dave Brown (PDF version):

Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act

Due to the massive amount of comments from concerned parents that I have recently received, I introduced the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act (S.F. 1543) to protect students’ basic physical safety and privacy rights. This bill requires that schools maintain facilities (bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.) separated based on biological sex. It will also protect the integrity of girls’ athletics by ensuring that girls’ teams will continue to remain safe and fair.

Minnesota families expect our public schools to protect the safety and physical privacy of every student while ensuring the integrity of our female sports teams. This bill accomplishes what is already the expectation of people across our state. This legislation is a common sense solution that protects each and every student against the misguided policy of the MN State High School League. Students have a right to privacy in bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers with facilities that separate biological males and females.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain (PDF version):

Reinforcing our children’s safety and privacy at school

On Monday, Senate Republicans introduced the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” to address serious concerns regarding a controversial new policy from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). Last December, the MSHSL issued a new ruling allowing transgender students to play on a sports team other than the team of the student’s biological sex. In effect, it allows male students who identify as female to play on girls’ sports teams.

The ruling was met with resistance from parents and families who were worried about what effect it would have on locker room and shower situations, and how the ruling would impact private and nonpublic schools. Before the final vote on the policy, the MSHSL was presented with a petition of 6,000 names opposing the changes, but the Board proceeded to adopt the plan anyway.

In addition to parent apprehension, the ruling also appears to be in conflict with state statutes.

The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act,” which has been assigned Senate File 1543, clarifies state law and sends a message to parents that we are listening to their concerns. It is a commonsense bill that protects students’ basic safety and privacy rights by codifying what high schools are already doing. I support this bill because it is clear Minnesota families are unhappy with the Board’s decision. A recent statewide poll from Public Opinion Strategies showed only 29 percent of respondents supported the MSHSL ruling, while 76 percent support the changes in our bill.

Sen. Michelle Benson (PDF version):

Reinforcing our children’s safety & privacy
Senate Republicans introduced the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” this week to address serious concerns raised by the new, controversial Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) policy that allows transgender students to play on sports teams other than the teams of the student’s biological sex. This policy, in effect, allows male students who identify as females to play on girls’ sports teams, and vice versa. Families, parents, churches, and schools resisted, expressing concern over potential effects on locker rooms and shower situations, as well as private schools, but the Board gave into a very small number of special interests and passed the policy anyway.

The Republican proposal, SF1543, clarifies state law and sends a message to concerned parents and families that we are listening to their concerns. It ensures students’ safety and privacy by defining who is eligible to participate on school sports teams and requires that facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms are separated based on biological sex. For students who are uncomfortable using their biologically corresponding facility, private facilities will be made accessible to them.

Sen. Dan Hall (PDF version):

MSHSL Transgender Policy

Reinforcing our children’s safety and privacy at school
On Monday, Senate Republicans introduced the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” to address serious concerns regarding a controversial new policy from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).

Last December, the MSHSL issued a new ruling allowing transgender students to play on a sports team other than the team of the student’s biological sex. In effect, it allows male students who identify as female to play on girls sports teams. The ruling was met with resistance from parents and families who were worried about what effect it would have on locker room and shower situations, and how the ruling would impact private and nonpublic schools. Before the final vote on the policy, the MSHSL was presented with a petition of 6,000 names opposing the changes, but the Board proceeded to adopt the plan anyway.

In addition to parent apprehension, the ruling also appears to be in conflict with state statutes.

The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act,” which has been assigned Senate File 1543, clarifies state law and sends a message to parents that we are listening to their concerns. It is a commonsense bill that protects students’ basic safety and privacy rights by codifying what high schools are already doing. It simply defines who is eligible to participate on school sports teams and requires that schools maintain facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms that are separated based on biological sex. Schools will be able to continue to meet the needs of individual students who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their biological sex by offering access to a private facility.

I support this bill because it is clear Minnesota families are unhappy with the Board’s decision.

A recent statewide poll from Public Opinion Strategies showed only 29 percent of respondents supported the MSHSL ruling, while 76 percent support the changes in our bill. As a father and grandfather, I share your concerns about the policy. The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” addresses the needs of transgender students while continuing to protect every student’s safety and privacy.

Sen. Torrey Westrom (PDF version):

Reinforcing our children’s safety and privacy at school – On Monday, Senate Republicans introduced the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” to address serious concerns regarding a controversial new policy from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). Last December, the MSHSL issued a new ruling allowing transgender students to play on a sports team other than the team of the student’s biological sex. In effect, it allows male students who identify as female to play on girls sports teams. The ruling was met with resistance from parents and families who were worried about what effect it would have on locker room and shower situations, and how the ruling would impact private and nonpublic schools. Before the final vote on the policy, the MSHSL was presented with a petition of 6,000 names opposing the changes, but the Board proceeded to adopt the plan anyway. In addition to parent apprehension, the ruling also appears to be in conflict with state statutes.

The “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act,” which Sen. Westrom co-authored and has been assigned Senate File 1543, clarifies state law and sends a message to parents that we are listening to their concerns. It is a commonsense bill that protects students’ basic safety and privacy rights by codifying what high schools are already doing. It simply defines who is eligible to participate on school sports teams and requires that schools maintain facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms that are separated based on biological sex. Schools will be able to continue to meet the needs of individual students who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their biological sex by offering access to a private facility.

I support this bill because it is clear Minnesota families are unhappy with the Board’s decision. A recent statewide poll from Public Opinion Strategies showed only 29 percent of respondents supported the MSHSL ruling, while 76 percent support the changes in our bill. As a father, I share your concerns about the policy.

Rep. Abigail Whelan (PDF version):

Bill Addressing Changes in Minnesota State High School League

I’ve signed on as a co­author on House File 1546. The purpose of this legislation is to protect and provide privacy and safety of all students enrolled in public schools. Additionally, it provides order and dignity in restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, and other facilities where students are changing clothes in the presence of others

Rep. Eric Lucero (PDF version):

HF 1546 – I strongly disagree with the change the Minnesota State High School League made last December requiring MSHSL member schools to allow transgender students to choose to play on the team that matches the student’s gender identity.

The MSHSL change means a teen born male can choose to play on female teams. This bill seeks to protect the safety and privacy of all students and maintain order and dignity in restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, and other facilities where students may be in various states of undress in the presence of other students.

Rep. Kathy Lohmer (PDF version):

If lawmakers want to protect the physical safety and privacy rights of every Minnesota student, I am hopeful they will support the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act legislation I’m co­authoring.

Most people take it for granted that if a biological male wants to participate in high school athletics, he will have to play on a boys team and dress in a boys locker room. But due to the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) approval of a “transgender student athlete policy” that would allow biological males to play on girls’ sports teams, this clarification in state law is necessary.

Very simply, the legislation requires that bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms in a school be separated based on that athlete’s biological sex, while ensuring that schools can continue to meet individual student needs for those who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their birth sex by providing access to a private or faculty facility. It also ensures that girls’ teams will remain only for biological girls, which would address any issues of competitive fairness.

Every student athlete, regardless of gender, should feel safe participating in a high school activity and should not have to worry about protecting their personal privacy. This bill would provide that security.

Rep. Tim Miller (PDF version):

This week I’ve been working on a bill called the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act, which seeks to protect the basic physical safety and privacy rights of every Minnesota student.

I believe the bill is necessary due to the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) approval of a “transgender student athlete policy” that would allow biological males to play on girls’ sports teams. Not only does this raise questions of competitive fairness in girls’ sports, but also of the safety and privacy of all student athletes.

As a dad, grandpa, and former coach, I understand the importance of allowing children to discover who they are and what activities they enjoy. The only way this can occur is within an environment where all kids feel safe, and this bill will protect the privacy, dignity, and opportunities for every student in every sport.

The bill requires that bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms in a school be separated based on that athlete’s biological sex, while ensuring that schools can continue to meet individual student needs for students who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds with their birth sex by providing access to a private or faculty facility. It also ensures that girls’ teams will remain only for biological girls.

It’s sad that we even have to introduce this bill because the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans understand that having boys playing on boys sports teams and dressing in boys locker rooms is just common sense. Every child should feel comfortable participating in a school ­sponsored activity, and this bill would allow that to happen.

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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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