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Missouri's 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Is Even Worse Than Florida's

Missouri's 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Is Even Worse Than Florida's

Children looking ahead in a classroom and Pride flags.

If Missouri lawmakers had their way, young people wouldn't learn anything about LGBTQ+ people until they're out of high school.

Lawmakers in Missouri are considering a Republican-proposed bill that would ban the discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation at all ages and grade levels.

Tuesday morning Missouri Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee held a hearing at which the bill was to be discussed, the Kansas City Starreports.

Any public or charter school staff member would be prohibited from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation unless they are a mental health professional and have parental consent if the bill passes.

The Missouri bill is more restrictive than Florida’s “don’t say gay” law passed last year. Florida prohibits instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation from kindergarten through third grade, but Missouri doesn’t specify a range.

Critics argue that the broad bill would prohibit LGBTQ+ teachers from discussing their spouses due to the possibility that it might indicate their sexual orientation. In addition, it could prohibit teachers from teaching books that include LGBTQ+ characters or topics and forbid health classes from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity.

Republican state Sen. Mike Moon was unapologetic about the possible restrictions on those discussions under the law, the Star reports.

“Gender identity and sexual orientation conversations would be prohibited. If they think that would be included, then it likely will be,” Moon told the paper.

Last month, legislation establishing the Missouri Parents Bill of Rights, requiring Missouri school districts to provide parents with curriculum information, and banning diversity-related topics like Critical Race Theory (which was never taught in schools at all) from being taught, passed out of committee and is now in the state senate, CNN reports.

Similarly to homophobia and transphobia in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, critics argue that these bills are steeped in racism since they erase the Black experience and whitewash history.

In Florida, for example, Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration blocked the private organization The College Board from offering its new AP African American Studies course because elements of the course violated the Stop WOKE Act — a law that, according to conservative notions of young people’s capacity to understand the context of matters, bans the discussion of anything that might make white and straight children uncomfortable.

Republicans have proposed several bills in the state that would ban transgender students from competing on teams of the same gender as their identities. Democratic activists expect those bills to pass this year.

Republican lawmakers also seized the opportunity to pass legislation prohibiting children from attending drag shows after false reports of inappropriate drag shows spread throughout the state.

While Republicans contend that drag shows of any kind are too obscene for children to watch, Democrats and LGBTQ+ rights groups contend that conservative efforts to target them are part of a more general attack on the LGBTQ+ community.

Missouri Republicans have proposed more anti-LGBTQ+ legislation than any other state in the country, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union.

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