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Fight In Michigan Legislature Over State Board Of Education Smackdown

Public Restrooms

There was a spirited debate between lawmakers on a state House budget panel over a Republican effort to punish the state Board of Education.  

It’s part of a fight over the board’sproposed guidelines on how schools should handle gay and transgender students.  The proposed voluntary standards include policies designed to protect LGBT students from bullying and harassment and allowing students to choose which bathroom fits their gender identity.

Republican state Representative Phil Potvin (R-Cadillac) says the board rolled out the guidelines without consulting lawmakers.  Now he wants to eliminate money for board members to travel to and from meetings.   “They failed to communicate with us,” said Potvin.  “I felt we were worried about communication here, and they haven’t communicated with us.” 

“It’s bad because it’s punitive against our state board of education,” said state Representative Kristy Pagan(D-Canton Township).  She says the education board is an elected, independent body – and it isn’t obligated to get approval or feedback from the Legislature. 

Pagan and other House Democrats also support the proposed guidelines as protections for LGBT students. The board is still taking public comment on the proposed guidelines.  The budget bill now goes to the House floor. 

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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