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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Missouri House passes bills barring transgender students from sports

This Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
This Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Jefferson City, Missouri.

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 who 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 forbid 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 keep transgender youth from obtaining gender-affirming health care.

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.

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