Michigan Republicans Use School Aid Budget to Keep Trans Women Out of Sports

By Isaac Constans

May 2, 2022

Republicans in Michigan have tried before to keep trans women out of sports. They’re giving it another crack—this time in the school budget.

Need to Know

  • Republicans amended the state school aid budget to put restrictions on trans athletes.
  • Michigan’s current policy is case by case, and administrators say that’s worked so far.
  • Attacks on LGBTQ people have intensified in Michigan and across the United States. 

LANSING, Mich.—After striking out on previous attempts, Michigan Republicans have set their sights on a new way to keep transgender athletes out of school sports: the state school budget.

In a critical document designed to plan out education funding for the upcoming year, a Republican-led committee inserted language that Michigan ACLU leaders say calls out trans kids. Though it’s unlikely the language would get by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer when it’s final, the budget is Republicans’ newest vehicle attempting to intervene in gender identity..

The House Subcommittee on School Aid and Department of Education voted along party lines to adopt the language, which prohibits “boys” from participating in “girls’” sports, without defining the terminology. But many say the intended audience is clear, after months of increased hostility in state legislatures toward the LGBTQ community.

“No one makes a consciuos choice one day to be gay or trans because it seems like a fun thing to do,” said state Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), who is the only openly gay member of the Michigan Senate. 

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has judged sports eligibility for trans athletes on a case-by-case basis, according to reporting done by Bridge Michigan. The group reiterated that it has not had any issue with the current policy and it was not consulted on the newly suggested language.

This year has seen a record spike of anti-LGBTQ legislation, according to national groups. 

Ultimately, the language proposed in Michigan still has a way to go before it becomes law, though it swiftly made its way through the House Appropriations Committee. Currently, the state Senate hasn’t adopted the athletics ban in its drafted school budget. If the language exists in the final budget passed by both chambers of the legislature, Gov. Whitmer could step in and throw out the language as “unenforceable” or “unconstitutional.” 

Whitmer has previously pledged to stand with trans people in Michigan.


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