Bill would compel teachers to tell parents about gender talk

February 14, 2023 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri public school teachers would be required to tell parents if their children question their gender identity under a bill advanced Tuesday in the state Senate.

K-12 school staff would be required to notify parents if students “express discomfort or confusion” about their gender identity under the bill, which passed a Senate education committee. One Republican joined Democrats in voting against it.

K-12 school staff would also have to inform students’ guardians within a day if students ask to use different pronouns.

The bill originally would have banned teachers who are not licensed mental health providers from talking about being gay or discussing LGBTQ issues with students without first getting parents’ permission. That provision, which went farther than a Florida law dubbed by critics as “ Don’t Say Gay, ” was stripped from the bill in committee.

Under the revised Missouri bill, teachers would be outlawed from calling students by their preferred names unless they get parents’ permission.

School staff also could not encourage minors to “adopt a gender identity or sexual orientation,” wear certain clothes, get specialized therapy or get gender-affirming medical treatments without parent permission.

Districts would be required to try to revoke or suspend teachers’ licenses for knowingly violating the law. Parents could also file civil lawsuits over alleged violations.

The measure is aimed at stopping schools from “indoctrinating kids,” as Republican committee leader Sen. Andrew Koenig described it.

Republican Sen. Rick Brattin said it’s not schools’ role “to force an ideology upon them or to aid and abet” behind parents’ backs.

Democratic Sen. Greg Razer, the only openly gay Missouri state senator, said children might be “terrified” to tell their parents and, in some cases, risk being kicked out.

“What this bill does is say, ‘Kids, if you have questions, keep your mouth shut,’” Razer said. ”‘Just sit there, fall into a depression, do not go to anyone that’s an adult in the school you can trust.’”