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Missouri Supreme Court to Hear Two LGBT Rights Cases

Missouri Supreme Court

The cases both involve whether a ban on sex discrimination can extend to sexual orientation and gender identity.

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The Missouri Supreme Court this week agreed to hear two LGBT rights cases, one involving a transgender teen denied access to appropriate facilities at school, the other involving a gay man who said he suffered discrimination because he didn't exhibit stereotypically masculine traits.

The cases have "potentially far-reaching implications for discrimination law in Missouri," reports Kansas City public radio station KCUR. Both turn on whether law against sex discrimination applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the first case, a transgender boy identified in court documents as R.M.A. said his school in Blue Springs discriminated against him by barring him from using the boys' locker rooms and restrooms, although he had changed his name and gender on his birth certificate and participated in boys' physical education classes and sports teams.

He sued the school district in 2015. A trial court dismissed the suit, and last year an appeals court upheld the decision, saying the Missouri Human Rights Act's prohibition on sex discrimination did not extend to discrimination based on gender identity, Courthouse News reported at the time. The law does not explicitly cover either gender identity or sexual orientation.

The other case was brought by Harold Lampley, a gay man who said his employer, the child support enforcement division of Missouri's Office of Administrations, harassed him "because he didn't conform to stereotypical masculine behavior," according to KCUR. The Missouri Commission on Human Rights dismissed his complaint last July, saying it didn't have jurisdiction over sexual orientation-based discrimination. In October, however, an appeals court ruled that Lampley's complaint addresses sex discrimination and ruled for the first time that gender stereotyping constitutes such discrimination, the station notes.

Tony Rothert, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, said the cases stand to break new ground. "These are the first cases where the court's going to consider what sex discrimination means when the discrimination is based on people not meeting stereotypes about their gender," he told KCUR.

At the federal level, some courts have ruled that the U.S. law against sex discrimination extends to sexual orientation and gender identity. Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department took this stance as well, but it has reversed course since Donald Trump took office.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.