SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Lawmakers around the country have proposed more than 230 anti-LGBTQ bills this year. That’s a record just three months in 2022. The Human Rights Campaign says 35 states have introduced these bills, including Missouri.
OzarksFirst has been looking into what lawmakers are discussing in Jefferson City. Missouri has introduced 17 anti-LGBTQ bills this year, eight of which talk about transgender rights. On March 23, Senator Mike Moon from Ash Grove talked about a bill that wouldn’t allow anyone under 18 to have gender reassignment treatment.
“Some may say the government should not restrict a minors ability to do irreversible harm to their bodies simply to satisfy a desire,” Senator Moon said.
Jennifer Gore with Concerned Women for America spoke in support of the legislation.
“It seems very reasonable to make it unlawful for a children under the age of 18 to undergo gender reassignment surgery,” Gore said.
Senator Moon is sponsoring another bill called the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which wouldn’t allow transgender girls to play on girls sports teams.
Folks like Trysta Herzog in Springfield say they don’t like these ideas. Herzog has a 9-year-old child who identifies as pangender, or someone who doesn’t identify as a male or female. Herzog tells OzarksFirst that children deserve to do what makes them happy, and to be themselves.
“Our hearts break for our children,” Herzog said. “I think that’s going to be true for any parent. But when you see your child going to school or trying to participate in activities that they’re being disenfranchised from, you want to fight, right? You want to get up and use your voice.”
Herzog is a member of PFLAG in Springfield, which makes an effort to speak at hearings in Jefferson City.
Aaron Schekorra is the board president of the group. He tells OzarksFirst anytime a bill catches his group’s attention, PFLAG partners up with LGBTQ+ groups around the community and state. Schekorra says PFLAG members and volunteers are encouraged to call lawmakers in Jefferson City, so they could talk about their experiences at a hearing.
“The biggest, most impactful stories we often hear are from the children and from the parents themselves,” Schekorra said. “They are just trying to convey the message that a lot of these things, that are sort of mainstream attacks or mainstream arguments for taking rights away from or refusing to enshrine rights for transgender people and protections for gender identity, are just not true.”
Herzog tells OzarksFirst her child recently came forward as non-binary.
“We really had to educate ourselves very quickly on how we can talk about who they are in a framework that is binary,” Herzog said. “How do we help them gain access to equal opportunities in the classroom and in society being different in a way that we see in legislation isn’t acceptable?”
Governor Spencer Cox in Utah and Governor Eric Holcomb in Indiana have recently made an attempt to veto these types of bills. Herzog tells OzarksFirst she encourages Governor Parson in Missouri to do the same.
Ashley Quinn, a GLO Center member, shared a statement with OzarksFirst about the recent swarm of anti-LGBTQ legislation:
“They are baseless attacks on children. Even the mere proposal, and the fact that hearings are held to debate our children’s right to healthy, thriving lives. The hearings themselves are causing harm to our children and they need to stop immediately. Missouri’s kids deserve better.”
OzarksFirst contacted Senator Mike Moon for an interview, but didn’t hear back.