Missouri GOP goes 'a step further than Florida' and proposes 'most extreme Don't Say Gay bill': report
Missouri State Senator Mike Moon (R-29th District) is pushing a bill that would ban all Missouri school staffers from engaging in discussions around gender identity and sexual orientation, with "exceptions for licensed mental health providers who have permission" from parents or guardians, Springfield News-Leader reports.
The proposed bill, which mirrors Florida Governor Ron Desantis' "Don't Say Gay" bill — but "takes it a step further," according to Springfield News-Leader — would prohibit discussions for "all grade levels through high school."
Florida's bill only includes kindergarten through third grade, NPR reports.
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Executive director of LGBTQ rights advocacy group PROMO Missouri, Katy Erker-Lynch, told Springfield News-Leader the legislation "follows the lead of Florida's" bill "but does so with broader impact and implications" than any other law across all 50 states.
The organization referred to Moon's bill as the "most extreme 'Don't Say Gay' bill in the United States."
Per Springfield News-Leader, Moon's bill would likely ban Missouri schools from "discussing or teaching books that include LGBTQ+ themes or characters, LGBTQ+ history in Missouri and the United States, or even speaking to students about bullying or harassment if it was related to sexual orientation or gender identity."
During a hearing this week for the bill, Moon insisted "the media is not telling the truth" about his intention behind the bill. "These discussions and conversations will not be had," he said. "This bill is not intended to promote hate of a certain group.... I don't purport myself to be a bigot, I am not."
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While many conservatives support the legislation, officials from state associations of social workers and school counselors oppose the bill due to its potential to overwhelm "many of their members, who are not licensed mental health providers, with their hands tied to help students," Springfield News-Leader reports.
The senator argued that the bill "is about protecting vulnerable children." But some advocates protest that it "would harm LGBTQ+ students who don't have an adult they're comfortable speaking with about their identity."
Additionally, Missouri Democratic Sen. Greg Razer, an openly gay lawmaker disagrees with that sentiment. "I don't know what vulnerable child you're trying to protect, but it sure wasn't me," he said.
Razer continued, "I don't think I've ever felt more disrespected by a single piece of legislation than this one. You are erasing me as a human from our public schools, saying I can't even be discussed."
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The Springfield News-Leader's full report is available at this link. NPR's is here.
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