A group of Michigan Republican lawmakers are rallying behind a bill that would require transgender student athletes to compete on school sports teams based on their assigned anatomy at birth. However, the Michigan High School Athletic Association said the bill is "unneccessary" and could negatively impact current female athletes.
Republican Senator Lana Theis introduced the bill last week with 12 other Republican co-sponsors. In a statement regarding the measure, Theis said the bill was intended to keep playing fields equal and protect female sports, saying:
“As a society, we fought for generations to ensure girls and women, through Title IX, have an equal opportunity to compete in athletics on a level playing field. Sadly, today, identity politics threatens all that was sacrificed and gained. Across our country, biological females are losing opportunities at titles, records, scholarships and, at times, participation itself."
In a statement to WGVU, the Michigan High School Athletic Association said it does not support the bill, citing success with its current system and claiming the new legislation could negatively impact female athletes currently playing on boys' teams.
“We believe this legislation is unnecessary, for a few reasons. We have averaged two inquiries per year related to our transgender policy over the last five years – compared to a total of roughly 180,000 high school athletes in Michigan annually. Our policy is effective and compassionate, our schools are happy with it, and it has been followed without issue. Additionally, we feel this legislations takes away opportunities for all female athletes. During the 2018-19 school year – our last full year since we were not able to play sports last spring – we had more than 800 girls participate on boys teams, and they would not be allowed to do so under this legislation.”
MHSAA Communications Director, Geoff Kimmerly, went further, explaining that often at small schools, if there are not enough girls to create a full girls team, those girls will compete on the boys team instead of not having the opportunity to play that sport at all.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Career Readiness for consideration.