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House K-12 budget bill would dock schools over trans sports

The dome of the Capitol glows in bright natural light, against a deep blue sky with bare trees on the grounds
Carlos Osorio/AP
/
AP
The Michigan Capitol

The Legislature spent much of this week moving budget bills forward.

There was a big debate in the state House on language in the nearly $20 billion K-12 schools budget that would financially sanction schools that allow transgender athletes to compete outside their sex assigned at birth.

Democratic state Representative Regina Weiss tried without success to have that language removed. “It is our duty to advocate for Michigan students, to recognize them and see them for who they are, to protect them, and not to use them as political fodder,” she said. “It also holds school districts hostage by conditioning their state funding on the implementation of a discriminatory policy. But, most importantly, this language is harmful to some of the most vulnerable children in our state.”

Republican Representative Annette Glenn defended the provision. “For generations, our society has fought for fairness in women’s sports with Title 9 and similar initiatives; we have made a lot of progress,” she said. “But that progress is undermined if we allow boys to compete in girls sports.”

The Michigan High School Athletic Association would prefer the state stay out of it. The MHSAA has a policy to address transgender athletes on a case-by-case basis.

The budget bill now goes to the state Senate. The final version of the schools budget will also have to be negotiated with Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who supports transgender rights.