Missouri lawmakers push bill to save children from gender transition procedures

Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Missouri lawmakers move forward with bills targeting transgender youth health care, sports
  • The Republican-led House voted to push forward in a committee this week with HB 2649 or the “Missouri Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” which bars physicians and health care professionals employed by state and local governments from providing “gender transition procedures” to anyone under the age of 18. It also prohibits state or locally-run facilities from performing the procedure on minors.
  • The legislature also voted for an amendment to HB 1973, which would require transgender students in high school to play on the sports teams of the same biological sex listed on their birth certificate.
  • The SAFE Act also states that any health carrier or health benefit plan on or after Jan. 1, 2023, will not include reimbursement for gender transition procedures for an individual under 18 years of age, nor will it be required to provide coverage for gender transition procedures.
  • Both bills will move forward and await to be heard on the floor in front of the full chambers.

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Texas House votes to ban transgender girls from sports

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that bans transgender women and girls from participating in school sports after three previous attempts failed, all but assuring Republican Governor Greg Abbott will sign it into law.

Texas is now poised to join seven other states that passed similar laws this year, part of a national campaign in which Republican legislators introduced such bills in 32 states. The bills are aimed at preventing transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams.

Conservatives say they are protecting fair competition, but equal rights activists have criticized the campaign as a discriminatory attack on transgender people, saying there is no evidence that trans women and girls are dominating sports.

Political analysts say the campaign is meant to animate hard-core Republican supporters.

“There’s no evidence that there’s a problem. This is red meat for the base,” said Robert Stein, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.

While the Texas Senate passed a companion bill, three previous House versions of the legislation stalled in the public education committee, which has a Democratic chairman. Republicans then created a new version of the bill and sent it through a select committee they control, enabling it to pass the full House late Thursday.

The bill has gone back to the Senate for procedural approval and is expected to reach Abbott’s desk.

Texas Republicans have passed a very conservative agenda this year, including new laws that make it more difficult to vote, all but ban abortion, and do away with the need for a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

“Like a lot of other things in Texas politics right now, this is selling mainly to very ideologically driven voters in the Republican Party. These are the voters that show up for Republican primaries,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia have passed similar transgender sports legislation, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has signed an executive order supporting a transgender sports ban. Some of these face legal challenges.

Idaho passed a similar law last year that has been blocked by a federal court, and a federal court in July ruled that an 11-year-old West Virginia trans girl must be allowed to try out for the girls’ track and cross-country teams at her school in defiance of a similar law passed in April.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

U.S. government weighs in against trans girls competing on girls’ teams

By Matthew Lavietes

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Allowing transgender girls to compete in girls’ sports leagues is illegal and could mean schools allowing the practice lose federal funding, the U.S. Education Department ruled in a letter made public on Thursday.

The policy violates federal civil rights law that guarantees equal education for women, the department’s civil rights office said in the 45-page letter to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC).

The ruling came in response to a federal lawsuit filed by three female track runners from the state of Connecticut who argued they were put at a physical disadvantage competing against trans athletes.

It solidified the federal government’s stance in the controversial debate that is playing out in states nationwide.

Connecticut is one of 18 U.S. states that allow trans high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com, a website that compiles information on trans inclusion in athletics.

The Education Department said it would either withhold federal funding for the Connecticut school districts where they runners competed or refer the cases to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The letter said the school’s policy has “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities” including higher-level competitions, recognition and visibility to colleges.

In response, the CIAC said its policy protected transgender athletes from discrimination.

“Connecticut law is clear and students who identify as female are to be recognized as female for all purposes — including high school sports,” the athletic conference said in a statement.

“To do otherwise would not only be discriminatory but would deprive high school students of the meaningful opportunity to participate in educational activities … based on sex-stereotyping and prejudice,” it said.

Male-to-female trans athletes have been allowed to compete in the International Olympic Games since 2016 if their testosterone levels meet a certain low level for a year.

Idaho became the first U.S. state to pass a law barring trans high school athletes from playing in sports leagues that differ from their gender at birth. Several other states are considering similar restrictions.

The lawsuit was filed in February by the three runners against the CIAC and a number of local boards of education.

(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

North American leagues urge vigilance after Manchester attack

A man looks at flowers for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack in central Manchester, Britain May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

By Rory Carroll

(Reuters) – North America’s major sports leagues have strict safety procedures at their arenas but have urged fans attending games to be vigilant following Monday’s suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester, England, officials said on Tuesday.

The attack, which killed 22 people, has raised concerns in the U.S. ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, when fans flock to baseball stadiums to kick off the summer.

It also comes during the playoffs for the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA), high-profile games that typically take place before sold-out crowds.

“We already have a very thorough and detailed security plan in place at all of our arenas to ensure the safety of our fans,” said Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL.

“Obviously, with yesterday’s events, arenas have been reminded to re-double their efforts and to maximize their vigilance”

The league requests that anyone attending a game report anything that they observe as suspicious or out of the ordinary to law enforcement, security or arena personnel, he said.

An NBA official echoed that sentiment.

“We are in communication with the appropriate authorities and taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our fans, teams and staff,” said Mike Bass, an NBA spokesman.

League officials typically do not share the specifics of their security measures for safety reasons.

The attacker in Manchester targeted Europe’s largest indoor arena, which was full to its 21,000 capacity, about the size of most NHL and NBA arenas.

Major League Baseball, which recently began its season and mostly plays its games in outdoor stadiums that are larger than NHL and NBA arenas, has a similar approach to fellow leagues.

“Fan safety and ballpark security are always our top priorities, and we will continue to do everything possible to provide a safe environment for our fans,” the league said in a statement to Reuters.

The National Football League, which has some stadiums that hold more than 80,000 people, is currently in its off-season.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

North Carolina’s bathroom law puts NCAA events at risk: official

transgender bathroom sign

By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) – North Carolina is close to losing NCAA championship events for six years at a cost of more than $250 million because of a law that restricts bathroom access for transgender people, a local sports official told state lawmakers on Monday.

The governing body for U.S. college athletics is reviewing bids to host events through spring 2022, including 133 from North Carolina cities and universities, said Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

The law known as House Bill 2, which bars transgender people from using government-run restrooms that match their gender identity and limits local nondiscrimination protections, will doom the state’s chances, Dupree wrote in a letter.

“Our contacts at the NCAA tell us that, due to their stance on HB 2, all North Carolina bids will be pulled from the review process and removed from consideration,” said Dupree, adding he was sharing the information on behalf of the North Carolina Sports Association.

Asked for comment, the NCAA said it expects to announce its site selections for upcoming seasons in April.

The organization in September moved championship events, including two rounds of the prominent Division I men’s basketball tournament, from the hoops-loving state for the current academic year in protest at the measure.

“In a matter of days, our state’s sports tourism industry will suffer crushing, long-term losses and will essentially close its doors to NCAA business,” Dupree said. “Our window to act is closing rapidly.”

Adopted last March by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature, the law prompted legal challenges, boycotts by corporations and entertainers, and the relocation of the National Basketball Association’s 2017 All-Star Game.

Supporters of the statute cite traditional values and a need for public safety, while opponents deem it discriminatory to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

A repeal bid failed during a one-day special legislative session in December.

Dupree’s letter prompted a new call on Monday by advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers for an immediate repeal to avoid further economic damage.

Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican, on Twitter blamed the potential loss of more NCAA events on Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who took office in January.

In a statement, he said Cooper would “have to work toward a compromise that keeps women from being forced to share bathrooms and shower facilities with men to move past this distraction.”

Cooper urged Republican leaders to put the issue to a vote, saying in a statement: “There is no time to waste.”

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Peter Cooney and Lisa Shumaker)

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson Speaks Boldly About Abstinence

Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson told a crowd at a San Diego church over the weekend that he and his superstar girlfriend Ciara are waiting until marriage for physical intimacy because that’s “God’s plan.”

The topic of sex came up when Pastor Miles McPherson of The Rock Church asked Wilson about his life and beliefs and how he lives out his faith in daily life.

“I met this girl named Ciara who was the most beautiful woman in the world, the most kind person, the most engaging person, everything that I could ever want,” he explained. “She was on tour and I was looking at her in the mirror, and she was sitting there. And God spoke to me and said ‘I need you to lead her.’ And I was like, ‘Really? Right now?’ And he goes, ‘No, I want you and need you to lead her.’ And I asked her, ‘What would you do if we took all that extra stuff off the table? And just did it Jesus’ way?’”

Pastor McPherson then had him clarify Wilson was talking about sex.

“Yeah, we’re talking about sex… Can we love each other without that? If you can really love someone without that then you can really love somebody… I ain’t gonna lie to y’all now. I need y’all to pray for us. Because I know y’all have seen her on the screen now. If there’s a 10, she’s a 15. Pray for me, keep my mind clear, keep my heart clear.”

The stance of Wilson for God’s way of dating and dealing with sex has made him a target in some media outlets.  Entertainment channel E! posted an article on its website mocking Wilson.

“He is better than you, he is better than me, and he is better than possibly even Jesus himself,” writer Seija Rankin posted at eonline.com.

NBA FInals MVP Thanks God For Win

The MVP of the 2015 NBA Finals says that his team is “full of believers” and thanked God for his win of the award.

“(We’ve) got a team full of believers. We all say God has a way for you and a purpose for you,” Iguodala, 31, said after receiving the MVP honor. “I want to be just like Steph (Curry) when I grow up — just a God fearing man.”

Stephen Curry of the Warriors, the NBA regular season MVP, has routinely given God glory for his success.

“Sometimes people make it seem like you have to have certain prerequisites or a crazy life story in order to be successful in this world. But the truth is you really don’t,” Curry said after accepting his MVP trophy earlier this year. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you have or don’t have, what you lack or what you have too much of. But all you need to have is faith in God, an undying passion for what you do and what you choose to do in this life, and a relentless drive and the will to do whatever it takes to be successful in whatever you put your mind to.”

Curry wrote earlier this year in a piece for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes the depth of Christ’s influence on his team:

“Fast-forward to now—my fourth year with the Warriors—and my faith continues to be my driving force. God’s blessed me with an awesome support system in Oakland, starting with my head coach, Mark Jackson, who is a pastor of a congregation in Southern California. It’s rare to have such an outspoken believer leading an NBA team. We also have about 10 guys on our team who attend our pregame chapels and pray together before games,” he wrote.

Curry and Iguodala helped the Warriors win their first NBA title since 1975 on Tuesday night with a 105-97 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cleveland Browns Sign Youngest Player in NFL History

The average age of an NFL player took a huge dip on Tuesday when the Cleveland Browns signed 9-year-old Dylan Sutcliffe to a one-day contract.

“We’re excited to add another quality player to our roster as we prepare for the 2015 season,” said General Manager Ray Farmer. “When we first connected with Dylan, it was clear he was a competitor who had all of the right attributes to be a contributor to our team.”

“Dylan is definitely a young man who has all of the ‘Play Like a Brown’ traits, particularly through his passion, toughness and relentlessness.” said Head Coach Mike Pettine. “We look forward to seeing him bring that energy to practice this afternoon.”

Dylan was receiving a gift from the Make-A-Wish foundation.  Dylan has ataxia telangiectasia (A-T), a immunodeficiency disease that impacts a number of different organs.  His brother Sean also has the disease.

“Day-to-day, they just require a lot more attention,” said Dylan’s father, Derek. “Helping them eat, helping them get dressed, helping them go to the bathroom. Anytime they have to get up out of a chair and walk somewhere.”

The team brought Dylan to their practice complex in a limo, gave him a tour of the facility and a locker with his own #7 jersey.  No player on the team this season wears #7 so he’ll be a unique member of the club.

Dylan’s favorite player is defensive lineman Phil Taylor, who took Dylan under his wing during practice.  At the end of the day, Taylor lifted Dylan from his wheelchair and held him in the air while the team gathered around and did the Browns cheer.

Kansas City Chiefs Superfan Gets Dying Wish

She has only missed three Kansas City Chiefs games since 1986 and all she wanted was to see her Chiefs one last time.

Betty Johnson, age 86, was visited by former team kicker Nick Lowery and even received a kiss on the cheek from Lowery.

“We sang a prayer, and he was going to leave, and we noticed that she was no longer breathing,” Johnson’s granddaughter Autumn Barricks told KSHB. “We believe that she was waiting to say goodbye to her Chiefs.”

Johnson died due to health deterioration after having a broken hip.

“She loves them so much,” daughter Susan Johnson told Fox. “Her Chiefs were more important to her than her home.”

MLB Player Gives Up Hard Living For Eternal Life

He was known for being the first guy to the party and the last one to leave.  He was known as having a “me-first” view of life and used performance-enhancing drugs.

Now, Steven Souza, Jr. is a completely new man and he credits it all to God.

Souza was drafted by the Washington Nationals and given a $350,000 signing bonus.  He used the money for partying, drinking and taking home any woman he could land “without caring about baseball.”

“I was living the life you see on TV,” Souza told The Tampa Bay Times. “Everyone’s got big cars, money, alcohol, women all around them… Everyone is looking at this guy because he’s got all this and that’s what I wanted to be.”

Souza then was busted for drugs because of the ADHD drug Concerta.  Even after the 50 game suspension that came down from Major League Baseball, he still didn’t change.

“I still didn’t do the right things,” Souza said. “I was in a bad place trying to fill the void because I didn’t have baseball— a lot of going out, a lot of drinking, a lot of working out.”

After Souza discovered his girlfriend had an affair with another player, he spiraled into depression.  He considered walking away from his dream of being a major league baseball player because he just couldn’t see any point to life.

That’s when a friend at a wedding suggested he could find what he was looking for in Jesus.  He accepted an invite from a former MLB player to a church.

“It was one of those moments where you don’t know what to expect,” Souza described. “There was definitely a little anxiety. But as soon as I walked into church, it was comfort. Everyone there was welcoming me. And as soon as the message started being preached, it was just a release. I could feel the Lord moving… It was like, ‘Lord, I’m coming after you.’ And, what a blessing that it was that He answered.”

Within a month, Souza accepted Christ and was baptized.

Those who knew him saw an immediate change.  His friends and fellow players saw a change although it took time to win them over.

“The Bible says consider it a joy, brothers, when you go through suffering because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character joy,” Souza said. “These trials I have gone through, I wouldn’t be the man I am today without going through them. Obviously the damage I did to people around me and to my family, I wish I could take that back. But what I went through, I can appreciate. God took me through that and made me the man I am today.”