‘Most extreme’ version of Don’t Say Gay to date tabled in Missouri

LGBTQ+ rights advocates gather around in protest of Ron DeSantis and the 'Don't Say Gay' bill in protest

The Missouri Senate Committee is set to hear a bill that has been described as the “most extreme” Don’t Say Gay-style law to appear in the US.

On Tuesday (7 February) the Missouri Senate Education and Workforce Committee will hold a public hearing on the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act” bill, also known as Bill 134.

Bill 134 would stop public and charter faculty and staff from having conversations relating to sexuality and gender identity with students.

Conversations of an LGBTQ+ nature would only be able to take place if the staff member was licensed in mental health care, and have prior parental permission.

The bill has raised concerns including teachers becoming unable to discuss books that involve LGBTQ+ people or characters, no mention of LGBTQ+ history or discussing anything to do with LGBTQ+ relationships.

‘Erasing conversations’

Shira Berkowitz, senior director of Public Policy and Advocacy for LGBTQ+ organisation PROMO, said: “This bill is written broadly enough that you can’t talk or read about human relationships at all.

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The organisation has described the Missouri bill as the “most extreme” of its kind heard in the US.

“The recent ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill that passed in Florida was step one in erasing conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation within grade school curriculum.

“Missouri is taking the next giant leap by aiming to stop faculty, staff, and students from talking about these and related topics at all.”

People hold up signs in support of the LGBTQ+ community as they protest against Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who championed the state's 'Don't Say Gay' bill
Advocates have condemned Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law for silencing classroom discussions on LGBTQ+ people and identities. (Getty)

PROMO is expected to host a rally on Tuesday starting at 12.30pm at the Missouri State Capitol steps. Speakers will include PROMO, The Trevor Project, Family Equality, Youth in Need, Show Me KC Schools and more.

Katy Erker-Lynch, executive director of PROMO, said they’re one of many seriously considering leaving Missouri if the bill were to be passed. “Should this legislation pass, I have no doubt families like mine will seriously consider leaving the State of Missouri.”

“I think that’s what the bill sponsor seeks; to instill fear, censor, and to have a chilling effect across education.

“We need faith, business, civic, and private sector leadership to stand with us in calling out this outrageous bill aiming to silence and deny the existence – the very right to live – of LGBTQ+ Missourians.

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