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Missouri House passes bills barring transgender students from sports

Two people are shown running on a track carrying batons in a relay race. You can only see their torsos. A girl who is out of focus can be seen in the background holding the starting blocks for a runner on the track.
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KCUR 89.3
Lawmakers in the Missouri House passed two bills Thursday barring transgender students from school sports.

The bills now head to the Senate with two weeks left in the session.

The Missouri House passed a pair of bills Thursday barring transgender students from participating on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

Both bills were initially unrelated to school sports, but legislators adopted the amendments with the transgender ban after hours of intense debate in each instance.

One of the bills, which lawmakers passed by a vote of 95-46, outright bars transgender secondary school students from joining sports that match their gender identity. Instead they would have to participate with peers that align with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

The other bill, passed by a vote of 96-47, allows school districts to hold referendums to give them the authority to also ban transgender girls to participate in girls’ sports.

Anti-transgender legislation has been prevalent in statehouses across the country, with not only bills barring transgender girls from sports, but also bills that would seek to ban transgender youth from obtaining gender-affirming healthcare.

In speaking for his own amendment on the first of these bills earlier in the week, Rep. Ron Copeland, R-Salem, said he felt an obligation to “protect his daughter.”

“I'm here as a father. And if I don't fight for my daughter's rights, I can't expect anyone else to do that,” Copeland said.

Both pieces of legislation received fierce opposition from Democrats, including Rep. Ian Mackey, D-St. Louis, who quoted author James Baldwin when speaking on the House floor.

“He said we can agree to disagree unless the disagreement is rooted in my oppression, unless it's rooted in the right to exist. And that's what this legislation does is it erases these children. It tells them in statute in policy that they do not exist,” Mackey said.

The bills now head to the Senate with two weeks left until the legislature adjourns.

Follow Sarah Kellogg on Twitter: @sarahkkellogg

This is a developing story that will be updated.

Copyright 2022 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Sarah Kellogg is St. Louis Public Radio’s Statehouse and Politics Reporter, taking on the position in August 2021. Sarah is from the St. Louis area and even served as a newsroom intern for St. Louis Public Radio back in 2015.
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