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Missouri House advances bill to allow local votes on protecting women’s sports

Missouri residents are one step closer to being able to decide if biological male athletes can compete on K-12 girls’ sports teams.

The Missouri House voted 89-40 in favor of adding Republican Rep. Chuck Bayse’s proposal as an amendment to an elections bill in a late-session attempt to pass the contested legislation before lawmakers’ mid-May deadline. Under the amendment, Bayse said public school boards and administrators could call elections over whether to allow biological boys to compete on all-girls sports teams.

The movement to protect girls’ and women’s sports is growing across the country as biological males who identify as female, take top honors in a growing arena of athletic events. Idaho was one of the most recent states to protect girl’s sports.

Bayse said the goal of the measure is “to protect women’s sports.” He said transgender studnets have an unfair advantage over girls and parents should have a chance to weigh in on the policy.

“This is much more than just focusing on what the left says is discriminatory language,” Republican Rep. Nick Schroer said. “This is not discriminatory whatsoever.”

Missouri’s current public high school sports rules prohibit transgender girls from competing on girls teams unless they’re undergoing hormone therapy. In the past decade since the Missouri State High School Activities Association has had a policy on transgender athlete participation, only two transgender girls have applied to participate on girls’ teams, spokesman Jason West said. Both were approved.

The role of transgender athletes in sports is gaining traction as a GOP talking point across the country this election year. Political observers say it’s a classic strategy of finding a “wedge issue” that motivates a political base. House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade said Republicans are supporting Bayse‘s plan to win primary elections, “not because they believe in this issue. We are more worried about our elections and our future than the people we were sent here to serve.”

The main elections bill needs another vote of approval in the House before it can go to the GOP-led Senate and then on to Gov. Mike Parson.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice