Missouri passes bill to limit transgender athlete participation in school sports

The number of transgender students currently playing sports in the state of Missouri is less than 10, according to MSHSAA
Missouri passes bill to limit transgender athlete participation in school sports
Missouri passes bill to limit transgender athlete participation in school sports
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 10:18 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - In the final days of the legislative session, Missouri lawmakers approved two bills targeting transgender youth, including a bill to prevent transgender girls and women from participating on female sports teams.

Senate Bill 39 applies to public, private and charter schools through the collegiate level. It would prohibit a school from allowing “any student to compete in an athletic competition that is designated for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex as stated on the student’s official birth certificate.”

The bill has drawn criticism from many across the state, including Ellie Bledsoe, a transgender woman who lives in St. Louis.

“All you’re doing is isolating kids who already feel different,” said Bledsoe.

The bill passed 109-49. St. Louis County Republic Andrew Koenig was one of those yes votes.

“I think that’s a huge win. I think children need to be protected,” said Koenig.

Two Republicans joined Democrats in voting no.

“You can say goodbye to NCAA tournaments in St. Louis and Kansas City and maybe the World Cup too. We don’t care about that, we just want to be discriminating and unwelcoming,” said Chris Sander, R-Lone Jack.

The NCAA and the Missouri State High School Activities Association both have policies in place regarding transgender athletes.

According to MSHSAA’s handbook, a student who wants to play a sport for with a gender identity that does not match their birth certificate must apply with MSHAA.

A spokesperson for MSHSAA said since the application process opened in 2016, 13 students have applied. Currently, there are eight students actively participating in the state of Missouri.

They said they would follow state law moving forward.

News 4 reached out to several school districts who said they would await guidance from MSHSAA.

News 4 reached out to the NCAA and local universities and is waiting to hear back. A representative for the University of Missouri said they wouldn’t comment until the bill is signed into law by Governor Mike Parson.

Governor Parson indicated he will sign the legislation which is set to take effect in August.

The bill does provide an exception to “allow a female student to compete in an athletic competition designated for male students if no corresponding competition for female students is offered or available.”

If schools violate the new law, they could risk state funding.