State House OKs limits on transgender athletic participation

Baseball Football Soccer Ball (Source: Storyblocks)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s GOP-led House on Monday voted to limit which public high school sports teams transgender athletes can compete on.

House members on Monday voted 93-41 to require transgender students to compete on teams that match the “biological sex” listed on their birth certificates.

The provision was added to Republican Rep. Kurtis Gregory’s bill on public school busing, a tactic often used to pass legislation as the end of session nears. Lawmakers face a May 13 deadline to send bills to Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.

Amendment sponsor GOP Rep. Ron Copeland said he wants to ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams but doesn’t care if transgender boys compete with other boys, although his proposal would prevent both.

“As a father, my daughters should not have to play against a male in sports,” Copeland said.

Democratic Rep. Ian Mackey, who is gay, cautioned lawmakers about how a vote against transgender athletes will be perceived in the future.

“Your vote on the record will last forever,” Mackey said. “And I can guarantee you that while not all of you will regret it, I know that some of you looking at me right now, will. Do the right thing.”

The role of transgender athletes in sports is gaining traction as a GOP talking point across the country this election year. Political observers say it’s a classic strategy of finding a “wedge issue” that motivates a political base.

Some Missouri Republicans opposed the legislation.

Republican Rep. Shamed Dogan proposed another amendment that would prevent public K-12 schools from hiring or firing someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, which was voted down 60-77.

“We shouldn’t be firing people because they’re gay in 2022,” Dogan said.

Missouri’s current public high school sports rules already prohibit transgender girls from competing on girls teams unless they’re undergoing hormone therapy.

Two transgender girls have been approved to play on Missouri girls’ teams in the past decade.

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