News Briefs

Missouri House votes to limit transgender athletes participation in school sports

By: - April 18, 2023 6:20 am

Missouri House Republicans raise their hands to speak on a ban for gender-affirming care for minors as House Majority Leader Jon Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, moves for a vote on April 13, 2023 (Annelise Hanshaw/Missouri Independent).

The Missouri House passed its version of a bill on Monday that would ban transgender athletes from competing according to their gender identity on a 104-46 vote.

GOP Reps. Chris Sander of Lone Jack, and Rep. Tony Lovasco of O-Fallon were the only Republicans who voted against the bill. Democratic Rep. Alan Gray of Florissant voted “present.” 

The Senate approved a similar bill last month. Both chambers’ legislation extends through college athletics, including in Missouri’s private universities. The House’s bill begins at grade six, but the Senate’s legislation applies to athletic competitions designated by sex for any grade level.

A key difference in the House’s version is a penalty provision for school districts that allow transgender athletes to compete according to their gender identity. On the first offense, the bill proposes the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education withhold 25% of state aid for “the month in which the violation occurs.”

On the second violation, the bill prescribes a 50% deduction in state aid for that month. A third offense revokes all state aid during the month.

Missouri House advances limits on health care, sports participation for transgender minors

House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, told reporters Thursday he is waiting to present the Senate version of the legislation on the House floor, but that the Senate bill is still “alive.”

“It depends on what kind of action the Senate takes,” Plocher said.

House Democrats said they were promised to debate the bill alongside a ban on gender-affirming care, which passed the House last Thursday. House Republicans said the sports bill had not yet finished fiscal oversight Thursday.

Monday’s debate continued repeated discussions about whether it was fair for transgender women to compete with cisgender women.

“It’s a fair playing field when you have boys playing against boys and girls playing against girls,” bill sponsor Rep. Jamie Burger, R-Benton, said. “And that’s why I filed the bill.”

Rep. Wendy Hausman, R-St. Peters, said she believes transgender athletes should participate as the gender their original birth certificate denotes.

“I don’t think this is an anti-transgender bill because no one is saying transgenders [sic] can’t play in a sport as their original gender,” she said.

The lone Democratic speaker Monday, Rep. Keri Ingle of Lee’s Summit, said the proposed legislation sends a message to transgender athletes that they don’t belong.

“It is us in this room that is making it about that individual child’s identity,” she said. “They just want to play.”

Ingle said transgender children who have testified in committee hearings want to play with their friends.

“You wonder why we’re tired of, why we hate this debate,” she said. “It’s because we’re trying to convince you of the dignity of a child.”

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Annelise Hanshaw
Annelise Hanshaw

Annelise Hanshaw writes about education — a beat she has covered on both the West and East Coast while working for daily newspapers in Santa Barbara, California, and Greenwich, Connecticut. A born-and-raised Missourian, she is proud to be back in her home state.