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Missouri House votes to restrict access to school sports for trans athletes

The Missouri House of Representatives on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, during the first day of the legislative session in Jefferson City.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri House of Representatives, pictured in January, voted 104-46 on Monday to pass restrictions for transgender athletes wanting to play school sports.

The Missouri House has passed legislation that stops transgender athletes in the state from participating on school sport teams that align with their gender identity.

Members of the Republican-controlled body voted 104-46 Monday to pass the bill. The legislation now goes to the Senate, which has already passed its own version of the bill.

House Floor Leader Rep. Jon Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, spoke in favor of the bill before ending debate on it.

“I think what we're seeing is we want to ensure fairness and safety for all athletes,” Patterson said.

Under the legislation, schools would not be allowed to let students play on sports teams that don’t match the gender listed on their birth certificate or another government record.

That bill would apply to public and charter schools from grade six through 12. It would also apply to public and private postsecondary education institutions.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association already has guidelines on sports participation for transgender athletes, as does the NCAA for college sports.

Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee’s Summit, said by passing this bill, lawmakers are taking away a place where children feel like they belong.

“It's not all about scholarships and competition. Most of these kids want to play sixth grade basketball and volleyball. That's what they want. When this law passes, they won't be able to,” Ingle said.

This is the second bill the House has passed this session centered around transgender youth. Members passed their version of a bill that stops transgender minors from getting gender-affirming health care like puberty blockers and hormone treatment.

Both House bills are stricter than similar bills passed by the Senate in March.

The Senate version of the bill limiting transgender athletes from playing on sport teams that align with their gender identity would expire after four years. The House version does not expire.

Senate Republican leadership has already said it would like the House to pass the Senate versions of both bills instead of the other way around. The stricter language in the House bills means they would likely again face a Democratic filibuster.

A House committee has already passed the Senate bills with no changes made so far. If the House were to pass the Senate bills without changing them, they would go to the governor.

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.