Michigan’s Republican lawmakers seem to be feeling a bit left out of the anti-transgender backlash sweeping state legislatures and attorneys general’s offices. This week, it got its own bill limiting restroom use for transgender students and made its own attempt to push back on the Obama administration’s guidance protecting them from such restrictions.
State Sen. Tom Casperson (R) has been contemplating his anti-transgender bill for a few months. Independent of events in other states like North Carolina, the Michigan State Board of Education revealed new voluntary guidance for accommodating transgender students — not so dissimilar from the federal government’s — back in February. Though he’d been teasing it since then, Casperson didn’t introduce his bill until this week.
The legislation, SB 993, is framed as providing “accommodations,” but it actually only provides restrictions. Like countless bills before it, it defines students according to their “biological sex,” the “physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth.” Under the bill, and only permits students to access facilities that match their “biological sex.”
“I’m concerned about all the kids, and everybody has the right to some type of privacy,” Casperson told MLive. He seems to believe that the way to ensure this is to segregate the transgender students by forcing them to use “a single-occupancy restroom, a unisex restroom, or the controlled use of a restroom, locker room, or shower room that is designated for use of faculty.” The Department of Education has made clear that forcing this accommodation on transgender students and nobody else is unacceptable.
According to MLive, Casperson’s bill was “referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee, a place bills typically go to languish.” Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R) has said that the bill is not a priority and that he doesn’t plan to hold any hearings on it.
Meanwhile, while nearly a dozen states sued the federal government this week over the guidance issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education (DOE), Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) took his own approach to resisting the guidance: asking nicely.
In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Education Secretary John King Thursday, Schuette expressed that he thought the guidance was poorly considered. “The manner in which this decision was made — ignoring the essential role of parents, local school teachers and administrators, and done without the debate and consent of the legislative branch — is a failing that needs to be corrected,” he wrote.
Asked whether Schuette is considering joining the other states’ lawsuits, a spokesperson for his office said, “The Attorney General is reviewing all options.”