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Alarming Proposed Missouri Bill Would Make Teachers Register as Sex Offenders For Supporting Transgender Students

Alarming Proposed Missouri Bill Would Make Teachers Register as Sex Offenders For Supporting Transgender Students


Missouri state Representative Jamie Gragg, introduced HB 2885 at the beginning of March, which “creates the offense of contributing to social transition, which a person commits if he or she, acting in his or her official capacity as a teacher or school counselor, provides support to a child regarding social transition. The offense is a class E felony. A person found guilty of such offense will be required to register on Tier I of the Sex Offender Registry.”

Tier I of the sex offender registry includes people who have been found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor, kidnapping with sexual intent, sexual conduct with a nursing home resident or other vulnerable person, sex with an animal, sex trafficking of a victim under the age of eighteen, possession of child pornography, and more.

The bill focuses mainly on explaining the various levels of the sexual offender registry. The only language it uses to explain what “social transition” is “the process by which an individual adopts the name, pronouns, and gender expression, such as clothing or haircuts, that match the individual’s gender identity and not the gender assumed by the individual’s sex at birth.” The only commentary on what types of support the teacher is not allowed to give is “material, information, or other resources to a child regarding social transition” to anyone under the age of eighteen.

The proposed bill is part of a bunch of anti-LGBTQ bills that have been proposed in states across the US amid a growing movement that seeks to stop students from expressing gender identity and/or sexuality without their parents’ knowledge. The American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, have all said that supporting social transitioning is clinically appropriate for children and adults.

In an interview with CNN affiliate KY3, Representative Gregg said, “Ultimately, whose children are these? They belong to the family that they come from. If there is a situation where they don’t have that parental or guardian to go back on or to talk to, there is other help, professional help they can get.” This quote doesn’t quite make sense with the proposed bill. Yes, we all agree that children belong to the family they come from. If there is a situation where they don’t have parental help, they can get professional help, such as from a school counselor.

Jamie Gragg’s brother Charles Gragg, Jr., a retired and disabled veteran who lives in Springfield, Missouri, said he “was shocked by the bill his younger brother authored” and that the measure “took his breath away.”

“This bill is removing valuable support that is important for children. It needlessly targets teachers in addition to attacking those that they don’t agree with. It also attacks anyone who expresses compassion or tolerance and seeks to silence them. I believe it’s intended to remove them from the future conversations,” Gragg Jr. said.

Charles Gragg Jr.

This is what is chilling for teachers about bills like these. The language is so vague that we don’t know what we can and cannot do. Can we call a student by their preferred nickname, whether it’s related to gender identity or not? Can we listen to a student’s struggle with gender identity with compassion? Can we refer them to a counselor or support groups, which can save their lives, as students who struggle with gender identity have the highest rate of suicide?

Teachers want to support their students and encourage them to be who they are without having to worry about ending up on a sex offender registry with some of the worst criminals in our society. Ultimately, the more extreme measures that are taken, such as this bill, the more teachers will leave the profession, with the risk of committing a crime being too great. And there is already a teacher shortage of 300K.

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Jane Morris

Jane Morris is the pen name of an ex-teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself but is worried awful administrators will come after her for spilling their dirty little secrets. Jane has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university and her M.A. in Writing and Literature from an even fancier (and more expensive) university. As a professional queen of commiseration turned published author, Jane’s foremost passion in life is to make people laugh through the tears.

She has written several highly acclaimed books unpacking the reality of teaching and life inside the school system. You can view her full library of works here.