State Senate shelves transgender bill

A Minnesota lawmaker tried unsuccessfully today to revive a bill that tells transgender students which sports teams they can join and which locker rooms they can use.

Sen. David Brown, R-Becker, introduced a bill two weeks ago that would undo a recent Minnesota State High School League policy that allows transgender athletes play on the sports teams that best align with their gender identity.

Under the bill, students who are born male would be prohibited from trying out for or participating on a girls’ team. The proposal also sets strict rules for separate school restrooms, locker rooms and showers.

Brown was unable to get a committee hearing for the bill before Friday’s deadline. He tried to advance it through a procedural move on the Senate floor.

“It’s an important issue,” Brown said. “It’s not an anti-transgender bill. It’s a bill that protects all students’ rights, transgender and non-transgender, and I think it’s important to have the discussion.”

Brown’s motion triggered a brief floor debate on the merits of the bill.

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Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, was among the Republicans who spoke in support of Brown.

“This is a time when the Legislature could give direction, as well as clarification,” Limmer said. “Students have a right to privacy in their bathrooms and locker rooms in this state.”

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, opposed the motion. Dibble said Brown’s bill would reverse a high school league policy that provides transgender students with respect, fairness and dignity.

“Minnesotan believe in the Golden Rule, that we treat others as though we would want to be treated ourselves,” Dibble said. “This takes away local control from schools, who want to be safe and supportive and inclusive of all of our children.”

Brown’s motion failed by a vote of 37-28.

The House version of the bill has also not received a committee hearing.