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Missouri resolution would limit transgender athletes

Posted at 4:42 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 20:23:46-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers heard a resolution Wednesday that would limit transgender athletes from participating in high school sports.

Missouri State Representative Robert Ross sponsored House Joint Resolution 82 (HJR 82), which proposes a constitutional amendment to protect the integrity of interscholastic athletic contests.

If passed, high schools would require students to participate in sports based on the gender found on the student's birth certificate.

Ross and other lawmakers said it's about fairness. Last month, Missouri Senator Cindy O'Laughlin filed a similar bill, Senate Joint Resolution 50 (SJR 50).

At the Capitol Wednesday, Concerned Women for America was the only organization to speak out in support, while others, including parents, expressed their frustrations.

"I mean we're trying to be inclusive of all parts of our society, I just find this very contrary," said Veronica Malone, retired national team coach for USA Swimming.

Malone told 41 Action News the resolutions are discriminatory toward transgender athletes.

"We can find somewhere in the middle," Malone said, "and I think that's, it's not that I don't understand why they want to talk about it, but it's totally political. It has nothing to do with fairness."

Malone has coached athletes on every level. She was the USA Swimming coach for more than 20 years and is in the Hall of Fame.

Looking at the resolution, Malone said she feels it's in response to fear.

"People fear what they don't know and don't understand," she said.

One of Malone's arguments was athletes of any age and gender have advantages.

"If you were 7 feet tall you could play basketball, OK, well I'm sorry that's a really unfair advantage that you got to be 7 feet tall in high school," Malone said.

Malone believes a middle ground can be reached by looking to NCAA and international rules.

"NCAA's had rules for years and they just modified them as to the transgender, but it's not exclusion," Malone said. "It's just you have to be legally a female, you got to be willing to be tested and your test has to fall within these parameters."

To move forward, the resolution must pass the House and the Senate, then voters would see it on the ballot this fall.

"This kind of decision should be about freedom," Malone said.

Wednesday was the first hearing on the House measure. The similar bill in the Senate has not yet had a hearing.