A pair of Republican House members penned an opinion piece in the Star Tribune on Tuesday urging Republican leadership to include a bill that would block transgender-inclusive policies in Minnesota’s public schools in a K-12 education budget bill.
Republican Reps. Tim Miller of Prinsburg and Kathy Lohmer of Stillwater wrote, in part:
A recent article (“Dayton rips GOP as layoffs threaten,” May 30) said that the act includes “repeal of a recent Minnesota State High School League policy that gives transgender student athletes access to locker rooms of their choosing.” But the House bill said nothing specifically about transgender students. The legislation was drafted in response to the MSHSL decision in December 2014 that allows transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice, but only to provide clear direction to school districts for how to treat all students rather than a few.
Second, the language of the bill does not prohibit schools from providing alternatives for students choosing to identify as a different gender than their birth gender. It simply states that in public schools, boys and girls will use bathrooms, locker rooms and other places of undress according to their biological sex.
We are both disappointed that the governor would portray the Student Privacy Act as anything different. We are dismayed that such a measure is anything more than common sense.
We believe that students have the right to have their physical privacy protected in the very personal and private areas such as bathrooms and locker rooms. We believe parents expect this. After all, who would want their junior high daughter sharing a locker room shower with a biological boy?
The people of Minnesota are on our side with this issue. We respectfully request that the governor, House and Senate leaders reconsider this common-sense policy provision.
The Student Privacy Act would repeal an appeal’s process set up by the Minnesota State High School League that provides guidance to schools for the inclusion of transgender students in athletics. It would also block public schools from implementing transgender inclusive facility policies, such as those adopted by the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts. The bill was introduced late in the legislative session and did not pass committee deadlines to be voted upon in the House and Senate. Instead authors pushed to have it included in budget bills. They were successful in the House, but the Senate blocked the bill, and a conference committee also rejected the language.
Last week, Gov. Dayton vetoed the K-12 budget bill and several others, forcing a special session of the Legislature. In budget negotiations, House Speaker Kurt Daudt wanted the Student Privacy Act included, but Dayton rejected it.
Now, Daudt says the issue won’t be revisited in a special session:
Daudt says that the #mnleg House is leaving LIFO and transgender language on the "sidelines."
— R. Stassen-Berger (@RachelSB) June 1, 2015
Perhaps not coincidentally, Miller and Lohmer were honored over the weekend by the anti-LGBT Minnesota Family Council with their “Family Champion Award.”
Of Miller, the group wrote:
Representative Miller is a freshman legislator, God-centered man of faith, dad, and grandpa with a quick wit and refreshingly selfless attitude.
He is the House author of the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act, and thanks to his courageous leadership, the portion of his bill protecting children’s privacy in school bathrooms ultimately passed in the House’s Education omnibus bill.
We are grateful to him for following God’s calling, striving to serve his district and Minnesota as a ‘light for Christ,’ his boldness and political shrewdness with humility, his friendship, and his heart to protect kids and families.
Of Lohmer, the group wrote:
Representative Lohmer has been one of the leading voices to oppose legislation harmful to children, life, marriage, and religious freedom over the past few years, in a loving, compassionate and persuasive way.
This year, she also envisioned the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act, recognizing the need for this legislation to protect Minnesota’s children.
She makes time to pray for all her colleagues, both those who agree and disagree with her. And, as a woman of great faith, a mom, and a grandmother, she has a fearless and tireless heart for protecting children.
Miller’s and Lohmer’s piece didn’t seem to generate much interest. The Minnesota Child Protection League posted it to its Facebook but inexplicably deleted it a few minutes later. The only Republican weighing in was Rep. Abigail Whelan who thanked them on Twitter for penning the piece:
— Abigail Whelan (@AbigailWhelan) June 2, 2015