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Missouri Bill Makes Teachers Sex Offenders If They Accept Trans Kids' Pronouns

Provide support or information related to the "social transition" of a child and you're a felon, apparently

A new bill in the Missouri House could make it a sex offense for teachers to aid in the social transition of a child.

A new bill introduced in the Missouri House would force teachers to register as sex offenders if they use the names and pronouns of transgender children or otherwise support them and their identity. 

HB2885, filed on Thursday, February 29 by state Representative Jamie Gragg (R-Ozark), would make it a Class E felony  for teachers or school counselors to aid the “social transition” of a child — meaning that a teacher "provides support, regardless of whether the support is material, information, or other resources to a child regarding social transition."

The bill defines "social transition" as:

“The process by which an individual adopts the name, pronouns, and gender expression, such as clothing or haircuts, that match the individual's gender identity and not the gender assumed by the individual's sex at birth.”

Teachers found guilty of “supporting social transition” would be placed in the same sex offender registration category as Tier 1 sex offenders, which is Missouri’s lowest level but includes possession of child porn or attempting a sexual act. And since no Missouri sex offender is permitted to be within 500 feet of a school or daycare, the bill would effectively end the teacher’s career.

Gragg did not have any co-sponsors as of press time and no hearing has been scheduled for his bill. 

If it were to become law, however, the bill’s provisions could have devastating effects not only for Missouri teachers, but also for transgender and gender non-conforming children. 

A 2018 study (one of the most recent in this field of research) found that trans youth who were able to use their correct names (those that align with their gender identity) in multiple contexts had a lower risk of depression and suicide, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

“We showed that the more contexts or settings where they were able to use their preferred name, the stronger their mental health was,” the author of the study, Stephen T. Russell, University of Texas at Austin professor and chair of human development and family science, said. 

Transgender youth already face a heightened risk of suicidal ideation. Another recent study, this one by the Trevor Project, showed that in 2022 nearly half (45 percent) of LGBTQ youth surveyed seriously contemplated suicide. One in five attempted it. 

Missouri remains at the forefront of anti-trans legislation efforts and is one of the most prolific in the nation for bills targeting trans youth.

Already advocates are tracking the progress of 40 anti-trans bills in the Missouri Legislature, according to independent research organization Trans Legislation Tracker.

This follows the fourth consecutive record-breaking year in 2023, which saw more than 308 anti-trans bills introduced nationwide, including 43 in Missouri.

It is too early to tell for certain whether this bill will die in the House or will move on to the Senate. Erin Reed, a journalist specializing in the coverage of transgender issues and legislation nationwide, broke the news of the bill yesterday. 

“I honestly don't believe something like this could pass, even in Missouri, but it's worth noting as it's rare we get ‘new’ anti-trans bills that haven't been written before,” Reed said in a statement to X. “And in a much more fascist, right wing, anti-trans government, should they win, it wouldn't surprise me.”



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