GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan High School Athletic Association says it does not support a bill introduced in the state Senate that would require transgender athletes to compete in sports based on their biological anatomy at birth.
Senate Bill 218 was introduced last week with 13 Republican co-sponsors, who argued it keeps the playing field level and stops transgender athletes from taking up playing time and preventing women from getting scholarships.
The MHSAA disagrees, calling the bill “unnecessary.” It touted its own protocols that it says are working well. MHSAA also told News 8 that the senators behind the bill did not contact its officials or ask for their input before introducing the bill.
The organization, which runs most high school sports in Michigan, approved a policy for transgender athletes in 2012. Before a student can compete, the organization goes through school and medical records to confirm someone’s gender, including hormone suppression therapies. Over the last five years, only 10 transgender students have gone through the protocol and all 10 were approved.
“It’s rarely something that ever comes to our office. That’s why we’ve said publicly that we don’t really think that this legislation is necessary,” MSHAA spokesman Geoff Kimmerly told News 8 Monday. “We have a policy that works. We have a policy that our schools are happy with and we’ve been just fine working through these as we’ve gone along.”
Officials with MHSAA are concerned the bill could, in fact, do more harm than good. They say based on their understanding, girls may no longer be allowed to compete alongside boys, which is common in sports that are only offered for boys, including football, ice hockey and wrestling. In the 2018-2019 season, the MHSAA says more than 800 girls competed in boys sports.
“Compared to 10 over the last five years who have (competed under) our transgender policy, 800 girls on boys teams is much more significant than that,” Kimmerly said.
State Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, who is one of co-sponsors of S.B. 218, said that’s not the case. He told News 8 last week that the legislation would only apply to sports where both boys and girls teams are available. That language, however, is not clarified in the current language of the bill.
S.B. 218 has been sent to the Committee for Education and Career Readiness. There’s no indication yet on if or when it may get a hearing.