A Missouri Bill Would Put Teachers Who Support Trans Kids on the Sex Offender Registry

A new bill filed in the Missouri House would place educators who support a trans youth’s social transition on the state’s sex offender registry. It appears to be the first anti-trans bill that would make it a sex crime to affirm a young person’s gender.

House Bill 2885 was introduced on February 29 by Republican representative Jamie Gragg, who has previously expressed strong anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion stances, as the Los Angeles Blade notes. The legislation would make it a class E felony for teachers or school counselors to provide students with support around social transition “regardless of whether the support is material, information, or other resources.”

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.”

Gragg told local news outlet KY3 that the bill would also apply to teachers who have LGBTQ+ signs or literature in their classrooms.

If passed, HB 2885 would mean that teachers convicted under the law could face a $10,000 fine and prison time. Additionally, they could be placed on Missouri’s state sexual offender registry as Tier 1 offenders. The tier currently includes people convicted of charges like non-penetrating sexual content, simple possession of child pornography, voyeurism of an unwilling victim, and public indecency. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which maintains the registry, Tier 1 offenders have a 15-year registration requirement.

As Truthout notes, given that Missouri sex offenders aren’t permitted to be within 500 feet of any school building, this conviction could essentially end a teacher’s career.

Journalist Erin Reed noted in an X post regarding the bill that while she doesn’t believe “something like this could pass, even in Missouri… it’s worth noting as it’s rare we get ‘new’ anti-trans bills that haven’t been written before.”

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“It is a very extreme move in a time where we have a shortage of educators in our state,” Aaron Schekorra, executive director of the GLO Center in Springfield told local outlet KY3. “We’re not encouraging people to go into this career when we’re talking about, if they use the correct pronouns for a student, they’re going to be labeled as a sex offender. That’s not incentivizing anybody.”

According to the ACLU, at least 35 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have already been introduced in Missouri in 2024 alone. Another proposed bill, HB1650, would make it a felony for drag performers to perform anywhere accessible by a minor, effectively criminalizing drag in the state. The bill was introduced by MAGA Republican representative Mazzie Christensen. The next House hearing for HB1650 is currently scheduled for Wednesday, March 6.

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