Mo. bill would outlaw teachers who support a student’s transition

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If the bill passes, any Missouri teacher who ‘provides support’ to a student transitioning could be charged with a felony and required to register as a sex offender.

Several U.S. states have introduced legislation that would block or limit transgender recognition or gender-affirming care

Recent Reddit posts and blog posts have been critical of a Missouri bill that, if passed, would make it illegal for teachers to support transgender students choosing to transition. If the teacher supports the student, they could be found guilty and if so, would be required to register as a sex offender, the posts say. Some other viral posts, including this TikTok video, claim that support could even include using a student’s preferred pronouns. 

THE QUESTION

Under a proposed Missouri bill, could teachers who support a student’s transition be charged with a felony?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, under a proposed Missouri bill, teachers who support a student’s transition could be charged with a felony. If charged with and convicted of the felony, a teacher or counselor who supported a transition would also be required to register as a sex offender.

WHAT WE FOUND

According to the bill, if a teacher or school counselor is acting in an official capacity and “provides support, regardless of whether the support is material, information, or other resources to a child regarding social transition,” they could be criminally charged. Rep. Jamie Ray Gragg (R-Mo.) introduced House Bill 2885 on Feb. 29. 

The bill doesn’t explicitly use the terms transgender or non-binary, but Gragg said in an interview with “Wake Up Springfield” that the bill is meant for “a small group [of teachers] that are assisting children when it comes to transitioning.”

“What I mean by that is boys identifying as girls, girls identifying as boys and then there’s even a whole other group of other letters that we can throw into the mix as well,” Gragg said on the radio program.

If the bill becomes law, a teacher supporting a student’s transition could be charged with and convicted of a class E felony and be required to register as a sex offender. Missouri’s criminal code says class E felonies could result in up to four years in prison.  

It’s unclear in the bill’s text whether or not “support” would include using someone’s pronouns or preferred names. Gragg, the bill’s sponsor, did not return VERIFY’s request for comment at the time of publication. In recent interviews, Gragg did not mention pronouns but has said the bill would include “LGBTQ+ literature or signs around the classroom.” When speaking on “Wake Up Springfield,” Gragg also said the bill would include safe space stickers.

Chad Flanders, a St. Louis University law professor, told VERIFY his interpretation of the law is that any kind of support such as giving a student a pamphlet about transitioning would be considered support and would be illegal under this bill. Flanders also said, based on his interpretation of the law, “if a teacher were to use those pronouns, this could certainly be construed as ‘supporting’ someone in that process,” but the law is unclear.

The bill has been introduced in the Missouri House and read for a second time, but is not currently on the House calendar to move forward in the legislative process.

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Mo. bill would outlaw teachers who support a student’s transition

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