Minneapolis— Today, Minnesota Representative Tim Miller (R-17A, Prinsburg) and Senator David Brown (R- 15, Becker) responded to the concerns of Minnesota families around the state by introducing a bill to protect students’ basic physical safety and privacy rights, The Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act (H.F. XXX /S.F. 1543).
Minnesota families were first alerted to emerging threats to students’ safety and privacy last year when the Minnesota State High School League passed a “transgender student athlete policy” that would permit biological males to participate on girls’ sports teams, despite overwhelming opposition from parents, students, religious and other groups, and schools.
Minnesota Family Council even presented to the High School League apetition of over six thousand individuals and schools all opposing the High School League’s policy and instead preferring a policy that would protect the integrity of female teams, as well as the safety and privacy of all student athletes.
The League ignored the voices of these thousands of Minnesotans, passing their deeply flawed policy nearly unanimously on December 4, 2014.
In the wake of the League’s decision, St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS)warned the public that it too is looking to pass their own transgender policy on March 17, 2015. SPPS cited the League’s decision as precedent for their own, stating: “Our inquiry into the Gender Inclusion Policy began as a result of...[t]he MSHSL beginning a transgender student athlete policy study."
The goal of SPPS’s transgender policy is to permit transgender students access to the sports teams, bathrooms, and locker rooms opposite their biological sex, as well as to curtail teachers from grouping students by “boys and girls.”
Indeed, school district transgender policies are becoming somewhat of a trend nationally. In 2013 the California legislature even passed a bill making this “bathroom access” state law.
When the High School League decided to ignore the deep concerns of Minnesota families about this disturbing trend, Minnesotans turned to their elected leaders to request that they pass a law protecting students’ basic physical safety and privacy rights.
Today, legislators responded to those they represent. The Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act will ensure that students will always have their privacy rights protected when they are in intimate settings away from home, under the supervision of school officials. The Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act will require that schools maintain facilities (bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.) separated based on 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, faculty, or other facility.
The Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act will also protect the integrity of girls’ athletics by ensuring that girls’ teams will continue to remain teams for biological girls—for obvious safety and fairness reasons.
House author for the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act,Representative Tim Miller, shared his reasons for bringing forward this bill:
"I decided to bring this bill forward because I am a dad and grandpa. I have also been a coach. I am 100% unapologetically 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."
An additional 17 Minnesota Representatives join Representative Miller in protecting students' basic privacy and safety rights.
Senate author for the Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act, Senator David Brown (R-15) explained the reason for his bill:
"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."
Senators Mary Kiffmeyer (R-30), Carrie Ruud (R-10), Dave Thompson (R-58), and Torrey Westrom (R-12) joined Senator Brown in protecting students’ privacy and safety.
“We join Minnesota families around the state in saying a big ‘thank you’ to Representative Miller, Senator Brown, and their fellow leaders for hearing the concerns of families and working to protect the basic privacy and safety rights of all children. Children, and their parents, need to know that their safety and privacy rights will be protected, particularly when they are in intimate settings away from home,” said John Helmberger, CEO for Minnesota Family Council.
“The Minnesota State High School League created an unworkable situation for schools and our female athletes when they passed their transgender policy. Now our Legislators are working to ensure that our female student athletes continue to have an opportunity to compete to win fairly and safely. This bill is simply common sense,” Helmberger concluded.
Indeed, according to a recent statewide poll conducted by independent pollster Public Opinion Strategies, 90% of Minnesotans agree with Representative Miller and Senator Brown: “Students have a right to privacy in bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers with facilities that separate biological males and females.”