A group of Republican state legislators on Wednesday proposed limiting the use of bathrooms and changing rooms by transgender Minnesotans to their “biological sex.”
Joined by a handful of constituents and fellow legislators who support the bill, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, unveiled his legislation in a news conference. He was joined by Senate sponsor, state Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson.
“The bill protects the privacy and public safety of adults and young people, both in our society, and in our schools,” Gruenhagen told reporters.
The measure says that “no claim of nontraditional identity or ‘sexual orientation’ may override another person’s right of privacy based on biological sex in public facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and other similar places, which shall remain reserved for males or females as biologically defined.”
Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday forcefully decried the legislation, calling it “appalling” and that he would veto it if it reached his desk. “This is about pandering to their extreme base,” Dayton said.
Gruenhagen said the legislation was prompted by a complaint from a female constituent in his district who he said works in the Twin Cities. The third-term Republican said his constituent felt uncomfortable after a transgender co-worker began using the women’s restroom at their workplace.
“My constituent is afraid to protest too much because she believes her job would be at risk,” Gruenhagen said.
The legislation has not been scheduled for a committee hearing. Similar legislation failed to advance last year in the Legislature.
Newman, the lead Senate sponsor of the proposal, said the bill is “controversial” and described the many phone calls his office has received on the topic. He said the response by the transgender community has been “coarse, they are threatening. They’re crude.”
He added that the response shows that transgender community members demonstrated that they are “not the bullied. They are the bullies.”
The GOP proposal comes just weeks after South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, vetoed similar legislation, saying he found no pressing need for the legislation and that it would create for schools and his state “a certain liability … where no such liability exists today.”
Minnesota has grappled with the issue before. In late 2014, the Minnesota High School League approved a policy allowing transgender student-athletes to play in girls’ sports.
Rep. Tim Miller, R- Prinsburg, introduced legislation last year that would have reversed the league’s policy. Dayton, too, promised then he would veto Miller’s bill.
Star Tribune staff writer J. Patrick Coolican contributed to this report.
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