Missouri bill could see teachers who support trans students jailed and placed on sex offenders register

A bill proposed in the Missouri House of Representatives would punish teachers who affirm a trans student’s social transition with a hefty fine, jail time and being placed on the state’s sex offenders registry.

House Bill 2885 (HB 2885), sponsored by Republican representative Jamie Gragg, would charge teachers or school counsellors with a class E felony if they’re found guilty of “contributing” to a young person’s social transition.

The bill specifically criminalises teachers who provide support – whether it’s “material, information or other resources” – to a trans student under the age of 18. 

Social transitioning, more broadly, refers to parts of a trans person’s journey that are not specifically medical. This can include name changes, using different pronouns, altering physical appearance and shifting participating in certain activities to align with a trans person’s authentic self. 

If the Missouri bill is passed into law, convicted educators could face a $10,000 (roughly £7,900) fine and imprisonment. They could also be placed on the state’s sexual offender registry as Tier 1 sex offenders. 

Gragg claimed the charges were necessary as “there have to be some repercussions of discussing things of a personal nature with students”, KY3 reported. 

Teachers having LGBTQ+ literature or inclusive signs in the classroom would “fall into that same category” as they’re allegedly pushing a “total social agenda”, Gragg said. 

Gragg adds the bill would include if a teacher has LGBTQ+ literature or signs around the classroom.

Aaron Schekorra – executive director of the GLO Center, an LGBTQ+ space in Springfield – told KY3 that the bill is a “very extreme move”. 

Schekorra highlighted how the proposed bill not only attacked queer youth who are socially transitioning but also teachers, at a time when there’s already a “shortage of educators” in Missouri. 

Missouri already has restrictive laws on gender-affirming care. (SOPA Images via Getty Images)

“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 labelled as a sex offender,” Schekorra said. 

“That’s not incentivising anybody, but it can’t make anybody become a teacher. And we need more teachers, we need good teachers, not this.”

Alejandra Caraballo, a civil rights attorney and activist, wrote on X/Twitter that it’s “insane” to think that a Missouri teacher “could be charged with a felony and put on the sex offender registry for using they/them pronouns for a student”.

Journalist Erin Reed said it’s “rare” to see “‘new’ anti-trans bills that haven’t been written before” and doesn’t believe “something like this could pass” into law, even in Missouri’s GOP-led state legislature. 

“And in a much more fascist, right-wing, anti-trans government, should they win, it wouldn’t surprise me,” Reed added. 

The bill criminalising teachers who affirm students’ social transition is expected to die in committee hearings, Missouri legislative political watchers told the Los Angeles Blade. If it did make it to the House floor, they thought it unlikely it’d pass the chamber. 

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