JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Missouri lawmakers are talking again about limiting transgender athletes from which sports teams they can and can’t play.
The heated debate lasted nearly three hours Monday night and also included a discussion about banning LGBTQ discrimination. The legislation at hand was about school transportation but quickly turned into the topic of transgender high school students and sports.
“Stop stuffing it into every bill that’s on this House floor because we can’t get any business done,” said Rep. Chris Sander (R-Lone Jack).
For the second time in two weeks, a hot button topic across the nation was debated for nearly three hours on the House floor.
“I know this is controversial but I sat here and sat here and not said anything,” said Rep. Ron Copeland (R-Salem). “Talking to my wife and my daughter, I feel it’s my obligation as a father to protect my daughter.”
The original bill dealt with school transportation, but Copeland proposed a provision regarding transgender athletes.
“My intent is if you’re a biological male, born a male, then you can’t play women’s sports, biological girl sports,” Copeland said.
This comes one week after members took an election bill and turned it into a heated debate about sports and trans youth. The House passed a plan allowing school districts to hold an election to ask the voters if transgender athletes with “male” on their birth certificates should be allowed to play on K-12 girls’ sports teams. That bill is still waiting for a final vote from the lower chamber.
“We have a policy today in the state of Missouri that is designed specifically for this purpose,” said Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern (D-Kansas City).
Nurrenbern asked Copeland on the floor if he spoke to any families of transgender children.
“I talked to my wife and my daughter because I’m protecting my daughter,” Copeland answered.
Rep. Keri Ingle (D-Lee’s Summit) then asked Copeland if he knew that biological sex on birth certificates can be changed.
“I guess if that’s the case and it’s on their birth certificate then this bill will not apply,” Copeland said.
“So as long as we make sure that our trans friends get their sex changed on their birth certificate, this law would imply to them,” Ingle responded.
A Republican from St. Louis County then tried to outlaw LGBTQ discrimination.
“Currently, you’re able to be fired from your job simply because of your sexual orientation or your gender identity. Not based on your talent, not based on what you bring to the company, not based on how much revenue you brought, not based on how you treat your customers but simply because of who you are and who you love,” said Rep. Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin). “You can be fired from a job today.”
The measure that would have prohibited public schools from hiring or firing employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity failed 60-77.
Sander, an openly gay Republican spent time on the House floor stressing his frustration.
“When we put LGBT, transgender, high school stuff into an election bill, I don’t know how to vote on that,” Sander said. “When we put it into a transportation bill, I don’t know how to vote on that.”
Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHAA), which oversees youth sports from grades K-12, already has a policy in place for transgender athletes, only allowing transgender females from competing on female sports teams after one year of hormone treatment.
It requires transgender females to fill out an application and documentation about their hormone treatments. Athletes born with “female” on their birth certificate are allowed to compete on boys’ teams according to MSHSAA.
Recently, U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s Twitter account was suspended for tweeting, “Women’s sports are for women, not men pretending to be women.”
The post has since been hidden and she’s been blocked from Twitter until she deletes it, which her campaign said won’t happen.
The bill needs one final vote from the House before moving to the Senate. The session ends on May 13.