Rabbi & 11-year-old son testify against anti-trans legislation
Daniel Bogard and his family are part of an interfaith movement led by Missouri clergy aimed at stopping bills targeting the LGBTQ community
ST. LOUIS, MO. — Rabbi Daniel Bogard should be spending this Shabbat preparing for tonight’s service at the synagogue he leads in St. Louis, Central Reform Congregation. Instead, he’s defending his family from death threats and planning his next trip to the state capitol, two hours away in Jefferson City, where Republicans hold a super majority in the state legislature and the governorship.
That’s also where the state GOP is pushing forward six bills: Three that would ban gender-affirming healthcare for transgender children and three more that would prohibit them from competing in school sports according to their authentic gender identity. Every year for the past few years, Bogard said he has testified against bills like these.
“Every year, again and again and again,” he said. “And it’s dehumanizing and degrading and genuinely traumatic.”
In fact, Missouri lawmakers have filed the most anti-LGBTQ+ bills of any state, according to a database from the American Civil Liberties Union that tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide. The ACLU called this the “most dangerous” session of the Missouri Legislature for the LGBTQ+ community it’s seen in years.
“The Republicans said that targeting trans kids is the single most important agenda on their list, especially targeting trans because it is their top priority this session. And I think, ‘What the fuck?’” said the rabbi. “We had, I don’t know, 50, 60 Jews who showed up in the state capitol with 25 hours’ notice to protest these bills last Tuesday.”
That day, Bogard was one of a half dozen fellow Jewish as well as Christian clergy who spoke out against the legislation, many of them testifying at a marathon, nine-hour hearing focused on student-athletes.
Bogard’s 11-year-old eldest son testified, and boy’s grandmother was there in support. The young man told lawmakers he was there to represent his nine-year-old brother and a friend, who are both transgender.
“I have to be here because you, the Missouri government, keeps trying to take away what they have a passion for. Why do you keep trying to take things from these kids? Kids just want to have fun, playing sports, not being stressed having to come here to tell you to let them play,” he said. “This has affected my brother, because now he is scared he will not get to do what he loves.”
The Blade agreed to not disclose either boy’s name or their faces for their protection. “I’ve had a half dozen death threats in the last year,” Bogard said. “It’s taken a huge toll. It colors everything about how I see the world at this point. I find hope really hard, which is tough as a rabbi.”
And this week wasn’t the first time the rabbi’s oldest son testified, he said. But he draws the line at putting his youngest child in the hot seat.
“My 11-year old, he’s been testifying for years now,” Bogard told the Blade. “We don’t allow our child who’s trans to testify because, first of all, he’s only nine. But they are so cruel in that testimony room. They’re cruel, and they say awful things. I mean, they call you groomers in the testimony room. They tell you you’re mutilating your child. They ask children if they’d like to be taken away from their parents, and why their parents are forcing them to believe these things. They ask children what their genitals look like.”
“So, we don’t, we don’t let our nine-year old go there,” he said, noting his child does have plenty of support, and not just from him and his wife, Rabbi Karen Bogard and their oldest son.
“My kid lives the life that every trans kid deserves. He is embraced and supported by every single one of his relatives, our friends, and the school and his teacher. They threw him a party on the one-year anniversary of his transition. The rabbi made him a kippah in the colors of the trans flag,” the pink, white and blue banner which was designed by Navy veteran and trans activist Monica Helms.
Bogard’s nine-year-old attends a school which is greatly supportive of the effort to win hearts and minds at the capitol. “The school sends a senior level person to testify against every single one of these bills,” he said. “That’s the world my kid lives in.”
To give other children like his a chance to live in a better world, even briefly, Bogard teamed-up with PROMO senior director of public policy and advocacy Shira Berkowitz last year, to start Camp Indigo Point, a summer camp for trans youth, at a secret location in Missouri.
“We thought we were going to get 20 kids from this area,” Bogard said. “And we ended up filling every one of the 97 bunks that we had for kids at the facility we had rented out, and had 60 kids on the waitlist. Those kids come from 27 states. It was the most magical thing, the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.”
Bogard said the entire staff at the camp, except for him, is trans and nonbinary. It’s efforts like this and the work he and other cisgender parents do at the capitol that has won him admiration and allies, including one woman who describes herself as an Orthodox feminist.
“The efforts to take away trans rights in Missouri — and attack and erase all LGBTQ+ people in our state — have felt like repeated gut punches as we see more and more bills proposed and work to build up the energy to travel to the capitol week after week to testify. It often feels like more than enough to break a person,” Rori Picker Neiss, Maharat and executive director of the JCRC in St. Louis, told the Blade. “And yet what continues to inspire me each day are these brave kids and their resilience, the parents who fight for them to the ends of the earth, and the faith leaders who refuse to allow religious language to be coopted for harm.”
Bogard and others making this effort do more than testify, they lobby the lawmakers. “Many of these Republicans will tell you in private how much they don’t like these bills and don’t want to be a part of them, but they feel like they have to.”
And what about those who are pushing the bills forward, such as Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden? Bogard calls them “disgusting” and “enablers of fascism.”
“They are the people who are torturing my family, because it’s good politics for them,” he said. “I think it’s fascism that’s rising here. I think that’s what this is and that’s what we’re facing. It’s white Christian nationalism, certainly, and it’s taking over red states.”
As the Blade has reported, families from Texas, Florida and other states of hate are fleeing to sanctuary states like California, Connecticut and Massachusetts because of the kinds of bills being considered in Missouri. Even though Bogard has deep roots in St. Louis, he confessed moving away is something his family may have to consider.
“I don’t know a loving parent of a trans kid in a red state who isn’t up at night, terrified that they’re going to need to flee,” he said. “I live in the house that my grandpa built, that my dad grew up in, that I grew up in, that my kids are growing up in. My folks are here at home, very close to us and who love their grandkids. My mom came down to testify with us. My brother’s here, his family, my niece.
“I’m terrified we’re going to need to flee the state, because if they give me the choice between doing what is right for my child, and staying, that’s not a choice. The great fear is, government goons showing up at your door to take your child away.”
Missouri Attorney General restricts trans youth healthcare
“Gender transitions are experimental, they are covered by existing law governing unfair, deceptive, & unconscionable business practices”
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced Monday that he has ordered implementation of a set of emergency rules that severely places restrictions on how healthcare providers in the state render gender-affirming care to minors.
In a statement released by his office Bailey wrote: “[my] office is issuing an emergency regulation clarifying that, because gender transition interventions are experimental, they are covered by existing Missouri law governing unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable business practices, including in administering healthcare services. The regulation is necessary due to the skyrocketing number of gender transition interventions, despite rising concerns in the medical community that these procedures are experimental and lack clinical evidence of safety or success.
“As Attorney General, I will protect children and enforce the laws as written, which includes upholding state law on experimental gender transition interventions. Even Europe recognizes that mutilating children for the sake of a woke, leftist agenda has irreversible consequences, and countries like Sweden, Norway, and the United Kingdom have all sharply curtailed these procedures. I am dedicated to using every legal tool at my disposal to stand in the gap and protect children from being subject to inhumane science experiments.”
PROMO Missouri, an LGBTQ public policy and advocacy group, said in a statement that the attorney general “does not have the right to politicize healthcare nor use transgender bodies as political pawns.”
PROMO also noted that gender-affirming care is not experimental, as the Attorney General suggested, but is a life-saving form of healthcare for trans youth.
The bodies of trans Missourians are not political pawns. @AGAndrewBailey is playing with the lives of trans kids and putting their very existence in danger with his actions. @PROMOMissouri will continue to defend trans youth and their access to vital, lifesaving healthcare. pic.twitter.com/aSSb5Zn92Q— Robert Fischer (@_imPRessive_) March 20, 2023
St. Louis CBS News affiliate KMOV 4 reported that Dr. Colleen McNicholas, Chief Medical Officer with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said in a statement:
“Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s transphobia is an embarrassment to the Show-Me State. The politically driven claims made in the announcement are medically false and harmful. Scientific evidence shows — and the medical community agrees — that gender-affirming care is safe, effective, and life-saving.
“Bailey’s lack of medical expertise shows. His personal moral panic is inappropriately and unlawfully setting harmful policies that will hurt young transgender Missourians and their families. We denounce this government interference in the practice of medicine, and we demand politicians leave health care between providers and their patients. Shame on any politician who uses trans youth for political theatrics.”
Attorney General Bailey’s emergency regulation (see list below) will last 30 legislative days or 180 days, whichever is longer.
Because gender transition interventions are experimental, the regulation clarifies that state law already prohibits performing experimental procedures in the absence of specific guardrails. For gender transition interventions, those guardrails must include at least:
- Specific informed-consent disclosures informing patients that, among other things,
- The use of puberty blocker drugs or cross-sex hormones to treat gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria is experimental and is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- The FDA has issued a warning that puberty blockers can lead to brain swelling and blindness
- Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (“NBHW”) recently declared that, at least for minors, “the risks of puberty suppressing treatment with GnRH-analogues and gender-affirming hormonal treatment currently outweigh the possible benefits”
- One scientific study notes that an individual whose friend identifies as transgender is “more than 70 times” as likely to similarly identify as transgender, suggesting that many individuals “incorrectly believe themselves to be transgender and in need of transition” because of social factors
- The Endocrine Society found that “the large majority (about 85%) of prepubertal children with a childhood diagnosis did not remain GD/gender incongruent in adolescence”
- Prohibiting gender transition interventions when the provider fails to,
- ensure that the patient has received a full psychological or psychiatric assessment, consisting of not fewer than 15 separate, hourly sessions over the course of not fewer than 18 months to determine, among other things, whether the person has any mental health comorbidities
- ensure that any existing mental health comorbidities of the patient have been treated and resolved
- adopt and follow a procedure to track all adverse effects that arise from any course of covered gender transition intervention for all patients beginning the first day of intervention and continuing for a period of not fewer than 15 years
- obtain and keep on file informed written consent
- ensure that the patient has received a comprehensive screening to determine whether the patient has autism
- ensure (at least annually) that the patient is not experiencing social contagion with respect to the patient’s gender identity
Missouri lawmakers consider proposed K-12 Don’t Say Gay law
Unlike the so-called ‘don’t say gay’ law passed last year in Florida, the legislation being considered in Missouri impacts all grade levels
By Annelise Hanshaw | JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Republican state Sen. Mike Moon was adamant Tuesday that his bill to prohibit teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity is not a “don’t say gay” bill.
But to Sen. Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat and the chamber’s only openly gay member, the label Moon chose for his bill didn’t matter. The policy he is trying to advance, Razer said, is “the most disrespectful bill I’ve ever seen in my seven years in this building.”
Senate Bill 134 is described as the most extreme “Don’t Say Gay” bill in the United States. SB 134 goes further than Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law.
“It’s hard not to take it personally,” Razer said during Tuesday’s Senate Education and Workforce Development hearing. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt more disrespected by a single piece of legislation than this one.”
Moon’s bill is similar to one passed last year in Florida that received national attention. Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” law restricts classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3 that goes beyond what the law defines as “developmentally appropriate.”
The Missouri version is broader, impacting public and charter schools from grades K-12 and only allowing discussion of gender or sexual orientation by a licensed mental health provider with parental permission.
Moon titled his legislation the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act” after his belief that “exposure creates confusion.” During Tuesday’s hearing, he told a story of an unnamed student who allegedly was counseled regarding gender identity or sexual orientation and had suicidal thoughts.
It is not clear from Moon’s story whether suicidal ideation was an effect of counseling, another environmental factor or mental illness.
Missouri State Sen. Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat and one of Missouri’s few openly gay lawmakers told reporters after the hearing: “I don’t think I’ve ever felt more disrespected by a single piece of legislation than this one,” Razer added “[that SB134] is the most disrespectful bill I’ve ever seen in my seven years in this building.”
Andy Schuerman, a 15-year school counselor and director of school counseling at the Park Hill School District, said LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk of suicide.
“As a school counselor, I sat with many who were so afraid that their parents would reject them as they struggled with their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he told the committee Tuesday. “Censoring what students can share with school professionals will only endanger their lives and increase the risk that they will harm themselves.”
Razer argued that LGBTQ students are the vulnerable children legislators should be compassionate for, and he harkened back to his upbringing as a gay child in a small Missouri town.
“I don’t know what vulnerable child you’re trying to be compassionate to, but it sure wasn’t me in Cooter, Missouri. I needed to hear something positive,” he said.
Timothy Faber, a lobbyist for the Missouri Baptist Convention, parental permission is required for field trips, so it should be required to discuss sensitive matters.
“The same aversion to liability should be applied when it comes to matters of the child’s gender or sexual orientation,” he said.
Razer said not all parents make good choices for their children, giving an example of a childhood friend who was not allowed to watch a show depicting a Black family.
“What’s the difference between teaching about or talking about African Americans and talking about me?” Razer said.
Faber answered: “A person’s skin color, they were born this way.”
“I guarantee you,” Razer said, “I was born this way and whether or not you like that, I’m here.”
Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, questioned Moon about whether, as a teacher and straight woman, she could talk about her husband.
“Your bill is so badly written,” she said, indicating it reads like sexuality and relationships as a whole were unmentionable. “Your intent is different than what the bill says.”
Moon said he only meant to ban talking about LGBTQ relationships.
The committee did not take any action on the bill Tuesday. Though the hearing room and hallway outside was crowded with people waiting to testify, the hearing on the bill was limited to 45 minutes.
ANNELISE HANSHAW writes about education — a beat she has covered on both the West and East Coast while working for daily newspapers in Santa Barbara, California, and Greenwich, Connecticut. A born-and-raised Missourian, she is proud to be back in her home state.
The preceding article was previously published by The Missouri Independent and is republished with permission.
The Missouri Independent is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to relentless investigative journalism and daily reporting that sheds light on state government and its impact on the lives of Missourians. This service is free to readers and other news outlets.
FBI joins investigation of threats against LGBTQ+ bars in St. Louis
Since September of 2022 the FBI has been on heightened alert over violence against LGBTQ+ facilities, groups and events
ST. LOUIS – The FBI has joined the investigation into violent threats of bombs and shootings against three LGBTQ+ bars in the Grove neighborhood of St. Louis this past weekend. A fourth threat against a children’s playground and adult café that was scheduled to hold a drag queen story hour is also being looked into by the FBI.
The three establishments, PRISM STL, Just John, and Rehab, are all located on Manchester Avenue in the city’s trendy Grove neighborhood and entertainment district. According to St. Louis’ alternative weekly press outlet The Riverfront Times, late Saturday afternoon, the bars received calls from an individual threatening violence.
Around 4 p.m. at Prism, bartender Jordan Cox answered the phone. “The caller off the bat started talking about how they were the Joker, and they were going to blow up the bar, send bombs and shoot up everybody,” Cox said, adding that it sounded like at least two people were on the other line.
Just John bar owner John Arnold said he received a voicemail around the same time.
“They said they were going to come in at 3 a.m. and burn the place down,” Arnold says. “And that they were fed up with us ‘fags’.” The same voicemail named a Just John employee whom the caller liked. “They told us to make sure he wasn’t there,” Arnold added.
St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK NBC 5 reported that a bartender at Michael Klataske and Sean Abernathy’s bar PRISM actually spoke to the suspect.
In the incident regarding the fourth location, CBS affiliate KMOV 4 reported that the FBI is also investigating threats against a children’s playground and adult café called Urban Fort in South City. The owner said they received violent threats and were forced to tighten security and change the date, time and location of a scheduled story time lesson featuring a drag performer.
Since September, the FBI has been on heightened alert over violence against LGBTQ+ facilities, groups and events. A threat assessment distributed by the Department of Homeland Security after November Club Q mass-shooting in Colorado Springs warned that hate criminals and violent domestic extremists could increase threats to the LGBTQ+ community “due to their responses to legislative or societal changes in the United States.” related to LGBTQ+ issues, and conspiracy theories involving the LGBTQ+ community.”
In the bulletin issued by DHS, the HSI agency noted: “Some domestic violent extremists who have conducted attacks have cited previous attacks and attackers as inspiration. Following the late November shooting at an LGBTQI+ bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado—which remains under investigation—we have observed actors on forums known to post racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist content praising the alleged attacker.
Similarly, some domestic violent extremists in the United States praised an October 2022 shooting at a LGBTQI+ bar in Slovakia and encouraged additional violence. The attacker in Slovakia posted a manifesto online espousing white supremacist beliefs and his admiration for prior attackers, including some within the United States.”
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement, “The investigation is ongoing.”
Central Missouri School District pulls Trans affirming policy
The Assistant Superintendent said there’s been zero incidents of sexual misconduct in school bathrooms since the policy has been in place
WARDSVILLE, Mo. – The Blair Oaks School Board in this rural area of Central Missouri, located south of the state capital city of Jefferson City, voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind a policy that protected transgender students, replacing it with a blanket discrimination policy.
The local newspaper, the News-Tribune, reported that the former policy, Policy 2115, allowed transgender students to choose a name and pronoun by which to be identified and to dress according to their gender identity. It also allowed all students to use restrooms that are gender-neutral, aligned with their “biological sex” or aligned with their “self-identified gender.” It also outlined Missouri State High School Activities Association rules for transgender athletes.
The board, in voting to rescind the policy, approved a plan to work with legal counsel to make sure existing policy and procedure complies with federal and state law regarding transgender students.
Columbia, Missouri NBC News affiliate KOMU-TV News 8 reported that despite being one of many mid-Missouri districts with a transgender student policy, Blair Oaks’ policy particularly became a topic of discussion after the News Tribune published an opinion piece online in May. The piece disapproved how the district’s policy was introduced to the public and voiced concerns about “biological males” using the restroom with “biological females.”
KOMU also noted that schools Assistant Superintendent, Kimberley Walters, said there’s been zero incidents of sexual misconduct in school bathrooms since the policy has been in place.
She added that while she is not allowed to disclose the identities of the transgender students in the district, around 1% of Blair Oaks students identify as transgender.
Jason Paulsmeyer, the Blair Oaks Board President, was quoted as saying: “I personally find it disappointing that there’s been so much focus on this issue at Blair Oaks. Ultimately, this is an issue that goes far beyond Blair Oaks, or Jeff City, or Columbia Public Schools or anywhere else. And I really want to readjust the focus on the great things we’re doing at this school, school district and the great things our students do.”
He then pointed out that in his opinion actions by the school board in regard to the issue were limited: “The crux of the issue is how transgender students are treated under Title IX, and that’s a federal law issue,” Paulsmeyer said. “And ultimately, this is an issue that’s gonna be resolved by authorities way beyond the Blair Oaks School Board, most likely by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Missouri high school faculty ordered to remove Pride flags
Removal of LGBTQ+ Pride flags and classroom materials that denote safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students has become a flash point of heated debate
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Teachers at the largest high school in this southwestern Missouri city were ordered to remove LGBTQ+ Pride flags from their classrooms last week by the principal and according to the local newspaper, the Springfield News-Leader, all complied.
“I’m writing today in regards to the Pride flag each of you has in your classroom,” wrote Kickapoo High School Principal Bill Powers in an email message obtained by the News-Leader. “It was recently brought to my attention that we should not be displaying the flags.”
The News-Leader reported that Powers cited a school board policy that was approved in 2014 and updated in 2019 which reads in part:
The faculty told the News-Leader that Powers wasn’t being seen as being adversarial, one teacher telling the paper; “All I will say is that I believe our principal to be an inclusive person and inclusive leader in the SPS community,” the teacher said. But the teacher also expressed frustration with the decision.
Powers initiated a dialogue with the employees while urging them to review the school board policy.
“Conversations have begun and will continue with the individuals in question,” confirmed Stephen Hall, chief communications officer with Springfield Public Schools in an email to the News-Leader. “His door remains open.”
Removal of LGBTQ+ Pride flags and classroom materials that denote safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students has become a flash point of heated debate around the nation. Recently in Wales, Wisconsin, the Kettle Moraine School District Board voted to uphold a policy that schools Superintendent Stephen Plum had interpreted as banning displays of political or religious messages, including LGBTQ+ Pride flags, and Black Lives Matter and We Back the Badge signs.
Three months ago, the Carroll County Board of Education in Maryland adopted a policy that prohibits Pride flags from being displayed in schools under its jurisdiction.
Students in a suburban Newark, New Jersey city in the metropolitan Tri-State area of New York City walked out of classes from three schools, protesting a new school board policy that bans the LGBTQ pride flag and most other flags from being flown outside schools.
Out Missouri candidate for local office campaign banner defaced with slur
If elected, Justice would become the first openly Out Jackson County Legislator, as well as the first Black representative of the district
KANSAS CITY – Over the July 4 holiday weekend an oversized campaign banner for community activist Justice Horn, who is running for the Jackson County Legislature, District 1, was vandalised with the homophobic slur ‘FAG.’
Horn, who announced his candidacy for Jackson County’s first district in May last year, tweeted Saturday about the vandalism:
Today I learned that my campaign banner was defaced with a homophobic slur here in Kansas City.— Justice Horn (@JusticeHorn_) July 3, 2022
I’ll admit, this one hurt because like so many us of who experience this, this word is used to harm us. Either way, I’m not going to back down and I’m going to hold my head high. pic.twitter.com/6geqENOFro
Horn did not file a police report. In an interview with the Kansas City Star on Monday he said:
“I don’t know how much more blatantly that this was a hate crime. It was specifically targeted at me because of my sexual orientation.
“What bothers me the most is that it happened in broad daylight. They were so emboldened to do this. It was specifically a defacing to attack me not based on my policy or my candidacy but on me personally. It was the same as calling me the N-word.”
Horn was set to hold a press conference on Tuesday morning but prior to its scheduled time the banner was ripped down and stolen. Horn then tweeted:
Welp, I just got the call that my defaced campaign banner was ripped off and stolen ahead of our press conference today at 9 AM. I had some prepared remarks, but I’m mad as hell and I’m not backing down!— Justice Horn (@JusticeHorn_) July 5, 2022
This isn’t Kansas City, and we’re going to prove whoever did this wrong! pic.twitter.com/FaRNuidsiM
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, a Washington D.C.-based group that supports LGBTQ+ candidates reacted in a statement sent out from its president & CEO Mayor Annise Parker:
“Recent anti-LGBTQ attacks from officials serving at the highest levels of government empower bigots across the country to espouse hate openly. The reality is that out LGBTQ candidates of color bear the brunt of much of this animus. We stand firmly with Justice and unequivocally condemn this homophobic attack. Hateful acts like this make it abundantly clear that progress is not linear and should never be taken for granted. This is a reminder for the LGBTQ community and our allies that the fight for equality is far from over and that we must enter this election with urgency and strength. The stakes could not be higher.”
If elected, Justice would become the first openly LGBTQ+ Jackson County Legislator, as well as the first Black representative of the first district. Justice is also of Pacific Islander and Native Blackfoot heritage.
Justice is a former Student Body President of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he recently graduated with his Bachelors of Business Administration. He rose to notoriety after his role in the Black Lives Matter movement in Kansas City as a lead organizer, which concluded with a list of demands recommitting the City to the safety of the public through police reform, signed by Mayor Quinton Lucas. This resulted in body cams for police officers, which has recently been put into practice, as well as elevating the issue of local control to a top state legislative priority.
Throughout the past year, Justice has been the author behind multiple pieces of legislation to pass out of city council, including the creation of the first LGBTQ+ Commission in the state. Subsequently, he authored the Trans Inclusive Healthcare resolution, which directs the City Manager to ensure health insurance contracts initiated by the City are inclusive of all gender identities to prevent discrimination.
Out Missouri lawmaker blasts GOP author of anti-Trans amendment
“I think every day about the kids who are still there who haven’t made out, who haven’t escaped from this kind of bigotry”
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In a video on social media that went viral, viewed 700,000 times plus on Tik-Tok alone, openly Out Democratic Missouri State Representative Ian Mackey, blasted an amendment to legislation designed to audit the state’s voter rolls and tweak elections laws that gave local school districts the ability to ban Trans youth from playing sports.
The Springfield News-Leader‘s capital bureau and politics reporter Galen Bacharier noted the House approved the amendment by an 89-40 vote after almost three hours of “fierce and emotional debate.” Democrats called the measure discriminatory and designed to invoke fear.
Mackey confronted the amendment author, Republican Rep. Chuck Basye who had characterized his amendment as an attempt to “save women’s sports.”
“This isn’t about hate, this is about fairness,” Basye said.
“I was afraid of people like you growing up and I grew up in Hickory County, Missouri,” Mackey, who is from St. Louis and openly gay, said to Basye. “I grew up in a school district that would vote tomorrow to put this in place.”
Shouting on the House floor, Mackey called the amendment “bigotry” and said to Basye, “Thank God I made it out […] I think every day about the kids who are still there who haven’t made out, who haven’t escaped from this kind of bigotry. Gentlemen, I’m not afraid of you anymore- Because you’re gonna lose. You may win this today, but you’re going to lose.”
MO State Rep. Mack (D) confronts Rep. Basye (R) over an anti-trans bill: "I was afraid of people like you… 18 years I walked around with 'nice' people like you who voted for crap like this. Thank God I made it out. I think every day of kids… who haven't escaped this bigotry." pic.twitter.com/53dUBYG5Jb— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) April 14, 2022
“We have spent nearly three hours talking about this issue and why?” said Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade of Springfield. “Members on the other side of the aisle have said directly to my face that they spoke on this issue because of their primary elections. Because they need to win elections in a redistricting year.”
The Springfield News-Leader also noted the amended bill would also require the legislature’s joint committee on education to study the impact of barring trans athletes and produce a report for the entire legislature by Jan. 1, 2024.
The House needs to take another vote on the bill before it is sent across the building to the Senate with just a few weeks of this year’s legislative session remaining.
Similar measures have failed pass in the last two legislative sessions.
St. Louis groups launch ‘banned book program’ to distribute challenged books
“If you look at most of the books that they are trying to ban, they are the stories of people from historically marginalized groups”
By Kate Grumke | ST. LOUIS (St. Louis Public Radio) – Two local organizations are partnering to distribute free copies of controversial books in response to the recent increase in attempts to remove titles from school libraries.
In Purpose Educational Services and the St. Louis bookstore EyeSeeMe will deliver free copies of “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison to Missourians who request it.
The organizations raised more than $3,000 in the first few hours after launching the book program, said Heather Fleming, founder of In Purpose Educational Services.
“If you look at most of the books that they are trying to ban, they are the stories of people from historically marginalized groups,” said Fleming. “We have to grapple with some of the things that have happened in our society. Number one, to make sure that they don’t happen again. But then number two, because we need to learn how to live with one another.”
A St. Louis Public Radio analysis of the books being challenged in the area in November found two-thirds were written by authors of color or authors who identify as LGBTQ. “The Bluest Eye,” was the book with the most official requests for removal from libraries. It was the first book by Toni Morrison, who would go on to win a Nobel Prize in Literature and a Pulitzer Prize.
The Wentzville School Board voted 4-3 at its Jan. 20 meeting to remove the book from school libraries. That’s after a committee voted to recommend keeping the book, writing, “committee members believe that removing the work would infringe on the rights of parents and students to decide for themselves if they want to read this work of literature.”
A committee in the Francis Howell School District voted to retain the book this month and a review of “The Bluest Eye” is still underway in the Lindbergh School District.
The organizations that are planning the “banned book program” have a form for people to fill out if they are interested in receiving free copies of the book. The books will be distributed to people in Missouri and the groups plan to pick a new book each month, Fleming said.
These conversations and these types of book bans, they’re placing our students at a disadvantage,” Fleming said. “Whether people want to admit it or not, we are becoming an increasingly diverse society … students who are not culturally competent are not going to meet with as much success.”
There has been a national increase in attempts to remove books from school libraries, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
“We’re just really stunned by the fact that there seems to be this campaign to erase certain books, certain topics from school libraries and public libraries across the country,” said director Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
The people challenging the books say they contain sexually explicit material and are not suitable for children.
Kate Grumke became St. Louis Public Radio’s education reporter in October, 2021. She grew up in St. Louis but spent more than five years covering politics and policy in Washington, D.C., most recently as a producer for the PBS NewsHour. Kate has covered two presidential elections and has reported from Cuba, El Salvador and Mexico. She won a 2019 National Murrow Award for her coverage of Oklahoma’s teacher walkout.
The preceding article was previously published by St. Louis Public Radio and is republished by permission.
Missouri LGBTQ+ book ban advocate arrested for molesting a child
Utterback spoke in November against LGBTQ+ books in North Kansas City school libraries that showed sexual acts
CLAY COUNTY, Mo. – A man who spoke in support of banning LGBTQ+ and other books depicting sexual acts, citing specifically the book ‘Fun Home,’ which won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book, in North Kansas City school libraries is now facing a felony count of child molestation and two related misdemeanors.
Ryan Utterback, 29, appeared in a Clay County courtroom last week to face those charges.
According to KMBC ABC 9 investigative reporter Matt Flener, in the first case, a probable cause statement alleges Utterback laid down on a bed with a child less than 12 and fondled the child in December of 2020. A separate case alleges Utterback started showing videos sexual in nature on his cellphone to a young child around the time the child was 4 years old.
Utterback spoke in November against books in North Kansas City school libraries showing sexual acts KMBC reported. He was also present at an October North Kansas City School District board meeting holding enlarged drawings of sexual acts depicted in the book ‘Fun Home’.
Utterback was standing beside Northland Parent Association president Jay Richmond as Richmond spoke against keeping that specific book in school libraries.
“Ryan was an attendee at the board meeting, I needed help holding a presentation and he helped. I can’t comment on the alleged charges against him because I have no knowledge about them and they have nothing to do with me or the Northland Parent Association.”
Missouri Trans student awarded $4 million in lawsuit against school district
The lawsuit states the district’s reason for denying him access was because he was transgender and “is alleged to have female genitalia”
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – A Trans male student was awarded more than $4 million in damages for sex discrimination against him by the suburban Kansas City Blue Springs R-IV School District. A jury in Jackson County delivered its verdict Monday.
In documents filed in court, the lawsuit noted that the student had legally changed his named in 2010 and had successfully petitioned the Jackson County Circuit Court in 2014 to amend his birth certificate to reflect his gender and new name, NBC News affiliate KSHB 41 News in Kansas City reported.
The student was denied use of the boys’ restrooms and locker rooms at Blue Springs R-IV School District’s Delta Woods Middle School and the Freshman Center.
“Defendants again denied [the plaintiff] access to the boys’ restrooms and locker rooms even though he is recognized as a boy under the laws of the state of Missouri,” the suit stated. “Defendants continue to deny [the plaintiff] access to the boys’ restrooms and locker rooms as of the filing of this Petition.”
The student participated in boys’ P.E. and athletics in middle school, including the eighth grade boys’ football team and track team, and he had to use a “separate, single person, unisex bathroom outside the boys’ locker room because Defendants refused to give him access to the boys’ locker rooms.”
The student “chose not to participate in fall sports for the 2014-2015 school year at the Freshman Center due to being denied access to the boys’ locker room and restrooms,” the lawsuit’s filing stated.
KSHB News 41’s Katharine Finnerty noted:
The lawsuit was filed in 2015 after the defendant filed a charge of discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights in late 2014.
The lawsuit filed for the student states that the district’s reason for denying him access was because he was transgender and “is alleged to have female genitalia.”
“Upon information and belief, Defendants do not speculate, inspect, or otherwise inquire as to the genitalia of other male students,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants have discriminated and continue to discriminate against Plaintiff R.M.A. based on his sex.
The school district released a statement that it intends to appeal the jury’s verdict.
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