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Missouri Bill Proposes Criminalizing Teachers Who Support Trans Students

A Missouri bill could put teachers in jail for simply supporting their transgender students. Jamie Ray Gragg, a first-term Republican state representative, has introduced H.B. 2885, according to reporting by LGBTQ News. This bill doesn’t just propose making it a felony for educators to help trans and gender-nonconforming students with their social transition; it goes a step further. Teachers could end up being registered as sex offenders for actions as basic as using a student’s chosen name and pronouns.

The heart of the bill targets any form of support from teachers or school counselors towards a student’s social transition, defining this as the adoption of names, pronouns, and gender expressions that reflect the student’s gender identity rather than their sex at birth. The consequences? Up to four years behind bars, fines up to $10,000, and mandatory registration as a Tier I sex offender. This category, which also includes individuals convicted of serious offenses like child molestation, would now potentially list educators committed to respecting their students’ identities.

In Missouri, the backdrop of this bill is a state already navigating through a surge of anti-trans legislation. Last year, Governor Mike Parson signed bills banning both gender-affirming care for trans youth and the participation of trans women and girls in women’s sports teams. As of this year, Missouri’s legislature has debated eight more anti-trans bills, part of a broader wave of 49 such bills introduced in January alone. These efforts target everything from healthcare access to bathroom use, reflecting a deeply polarized debate over transgender rights not just in Missouri but across the United States.

This bill, in essence, puts educators in a precarious position: choose between supporting their students or facing severe legal consequences.