BY JON CORTEZ
Somewhere up in Jefferson City, lawmakers and senators are preparing to ban certain student athletes from playing on certain teams. The hearing for this law will go to the floor for debate. Some lawmakers and senators believe that allowing certain athletes to play would give an unfair advantage in terms of physical ability. Who is being considered to be banned from playing in certain sports teams? I am referring to trans youth.
Missouri house bill 1045 would make it to where students could only play on teams that align with their biological sex. While this is standard, that boys play on the boys teams and girls play on the girls teams, there’s a big issue with this bill according to trans advocates and trans youth. This bill would only allow trans athletes to play on the teams that align with their birth gender. Meaning that trans women would be forced to play on men’s teams and trans men would be forced to play on women’s teams, which is inherently transphobic.
However, an issue some people aren’t taking into account is how this law could affect LGBT rights in the future. Let’s take a close look at the case of Tinker vs. Des Moines and how it affected the first amendment during class.
The background for Tinker vs. Des Moines began in 1965. Five students wore black armbands to peacefully protest the Vietnam War that was occurring at the time, and in support of the Christmas Truce which was called for by then senator Robert F Kennedy. The Des Moines schools principals learned of this plan and in advance made a school policy prohibiting the black armbands and stated that students wearing them would immediately be asked to take them off or be suspended and sent home. The five students refused to take off their armbands and were suspended.
The students would sue the school district for violation of their first amendment rights and the case would make it all the way to the supreme court where the justices would vote in favor of the students in a 7-2 decision. Tinker vs. Des Moines is a case that is still cited and referred back to in regards to first amendment rights for students.
So why do I bring Tinker vs. Des Moines up? This bill could have similar effects on trans rights here in Missouri. Today they don’t allow trans athletes to play on teams that match their gender identity, but tomorrow? Who knows what this bill could snowball into down the road. Something like student sports may seem trivial and unimportant, but we have to look out for how this could change trans rights overall here in Missouri.
For example, Tinker vs. Des Moines was cited in a case regarding a student’s graduation speech in which sexual innuendos were made. The case cited Tinker vs. Des Moines to say that students’ freedom of speech did not protect this student in making sexual innuendos.
I think we can all agree that the judges who gave their opinions during the Tinker vs. Des Moines case never thought that in 30-ish years their case on student’s rights to political protest would influence a student making sexual innuendos. So we have to ask ourselves what exactly could making Trans students play on teams that don’t align with their gender identity lead to? What else could lawmakers in the future ban trans students from doing? Could they ban them.
So next time you look at capitol hill making laws and debating the rights of others, ask yourself, could it lead to me?