Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The suggested Missouri proposal suggests that teachers could be labeled as sex offenders if they show support for students who socially transition in terms of their gender identity

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A new law is being suggested in Missouri that could cause serious consequences for teachers and counselors who support transgender students going through social changes. Missouri state Rep. Jamie Gragg, a member of the Republican party, introduced HB 2885 last week. If this law is approved and becomes official, it would make it a crime for school officials, like teachers and counselors, to assist in the social transition of transgender students. This includes offering information or support materials.

This proposed bill is part of a series of laws across the U.S. that target LGBTQ individuals. It comes at a time when a “parental rights” movement is gaining momentum, pushing for parents to have more control over what is taught in classrooms regarding gender, sexuality, and race.

Medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, have supported gender-affirming care, including social transitioning, for both children and adults.

The bill defines social transitioning as the process when an individual adopts a name, pronouns, and gender expression that match their gender identity, not the gender assigned at birth.

If charged with a class E felony, a person in Missouri could face up to four years in prison, and a Tier I sex offender could be on the Sex Offender Registry for up to 15 years.

CNN has attempted to contact Gragg for comments but has not received a response. In an interview with CNN affiliate KY3, Gragg stated that the aim of the bill is to give parents control over their children’s social development.

Critics, including LGBTQ advocates and residents of Missouri, have expressed concerns about the bill. Gragg’s own brother, Charles Gragg, Jr., a retired and disabled veteran, criticized the measure during a news conference, calling it “hateful and malicious.”

The LGBTQ+ policy and advocacy organization PROMO, based in Missouri, has received feedback from students and teachers worried about the potential impact of the bill. Robert Fischer, PROMO’s communications director, stated that they would engage in discussions with legislators and mobilize the LGBTQ+ community and allies to oppose the bill.

Despite expectations that the bill may not progress in committee hearings, concerns are rising about the rise of discriminatory policies against transgender individuals in various states. In 2023, over 510 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures, with 478 bills identified in the 2024 legislative session that could restrict LGBTQ rights.

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