The Missouri Republicans-led state administration began deleting resources for queer kids from its health department website when GOP legislators plan to pass more anti-LGBTQ+ legislation than anywhere else in the country, according to The Kansas City Star.
Earlier in January, Lisa Cox, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, instructed the agency’s website team to remove links from its teen and adolescent health information page. The page, found under the “Healthy Families” section of the website, provides healthcare resources for teens, their parents, teachers, and doctors.
According to emails acquired by The Star, the scrubbed resources are linked to Missouri sexual health providers, LGBTQ+ youth groups, and other organizations that provide information on sexual health.
Within 15 minutes of Cox’s email, an information specialist at the Office of Administration emailed to say that the resources were no longer public, The Star reports.
The links to those pages are no longer accessible from the health department's website.
Staff at DHSS discussed whether some information on its website was too contentious.
An interview with an ex-employee who worked at the agency at the time revealed that the removal of the resources resulted from outside and internal political pressures.
“There was a lot of political pressure given the content of teen pregnancy prevention, and just anything around LGBTQ health and wellness faced a lot of pressure to be censored,” explained the anonymous former employee. “That was something that I faced repeatedly throughout my time at DHSS.”
While auditing its current website, DHSS found hundreds of external resource links, Cox told The Star in an email. She said some of the links led to dead pages, while others were inappropriate for the health department’s website, requiring DHSS to remove them.
“A couple of the links you referenced below were advocacy groups with a fundraising mechanism built into their homepage. Some included political content,” Cox noted.
The resources deemed "controversial" included to Gender Spectrum, a group that provides information on gender identities; Trans Student Educational Resources, an organization providing information to trans youth; and GLESN, a national organization supporting LGBTQ+ youth in schools.
Some lawmakers have condemned the move.
“Missourians need access to medically accurate information to make healthy decisions. DHSS scrubbed these links not because the information was deemed inaccurate — but because they thought it might offend certain elected officials who want to impose their beliefs on others,” state Sen. Lauren Arthur, a Democrat, said in a statement to The Star.
Read more at: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-governmen...A similar move has been made recently by another state health agency. Last month reports surfaced that a conservative media outlet questioned the links to LGBTQ+ youth resources on a Virginia state website under the administration of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. That led to the mass deletion of resources for the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2021, Texas was accused of removing LGBTQ+ resources for youth as well. In this case, the resources included a suicide hotline for queer youth.