Rowden: Sports transgender topic will get Senate attention

January 30, 2023


missouri news network

Jan. 26, 2023

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate is likely to vote this session on bills impacting transgender athletes, Senate Pro Tempore Caleb Rowden said Thursday.

A Senate Education Committee removed language on transgender sports participation before approving the so-called Parents Bill of Rights earlier in the week.

But Rowden, R-Columbia, made it clear that at least some of the topics in bills discussed in a lengthy and emotional House committee meeting Tuesday night will see the Senate floor.

“I think our caucus is very, very unified around the idea that biological males should not play in female sports. I think our caucus is very united behind the idea that minors should not have gender reassignment surgery before the age of 18,” said Rowden, referring to the House bills.

Rowden, speaking at a weekly press conference to discuss Senate action, also acknowledged that other gender-reaffirming treatments, not just surgeries, are on the table for consideration.

The Parents’ Bill of Rights will likely see a Senate floor vote next week, Rowden said. The bill’s goal is to ban the teaching of critical race theory or other instruction teaching that someone is inherently oppressive based on their race. It also establishes a state portal for parents to review elementary and secondary curriculum.

Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, expressed his disappointment at discussing culture war issues rather than substantive policy on schooling. He referenced how Governor Mike Parson’s speech was devoid of such issues and instead focused on policies he believed were positive and set to move Missouri forward.

“We are still holding out hope that someday we’ll be able to sit down and talk about stuff that moves the state forward,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo was clearly frustrated about having to discuss the bills, saying his role as lawmaker was to concentrate on issues facing Missourians.

“I didn’t run for office to decide for parents what they can do with their kids,” Rizzo said.

The House bills faced heavy criticism from both Democratic representatives and the public. The bills have passed the House for several sessions but stalled in the Senate. This year will be different, based on Rowden’s comments.

Senate Democrats, speaking at their own press conference, pushed back heavily against items in the Parents’ Bill of Rights now scheduled for Senate floor consideration. Sen. Barbara Washington, D-Kansas City, compared the policies to the Florida Board of Education’s ban of an Advanced Placement African American studies course.

Washington said that she believes the Senate bill will limit Missouri students from learning important parts of Missouri’s timeline dealing with Black inclusion and acceptance into Missouri society.

“In the 1930s, there was Lloyd Gaines versus the University of Missouri. In 1939, there was Lucile Bluford versus the University of Missouri ... And now we’re turning that around and children will not be able to learn from that,” Washington said.