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Missouri’s HB 2885 Criminalizes Supporting Trans Kids

March 20, 2024

A quick glance at our recent blog posts makes it clear: attacks on our human rights consistently involve criminalization as an enforcement tool. Conservatives are expanding the carceral state, from arresting people for reasons related to being pregnant to threatening criminal prosecution for librarians and teachers who dare to distribute so-called “obscene” materials. Missouri’s newly announced bill, HB 2885, falls right in line.

HB 2885 would make it a Class E felony for teachers or school counselors to aid the “social transition” of a child, defined as the “process by which an individual adopts the name, pronouns, and gender expressions, such as clothing or haircuts, that match the individual’s gender identity and not the gender assumed by the individual’s sex at birth.” This means that teachers who provide any support, information, or resources to children regarding transitioning may be placed in the same sex offender registration category as Tier 1 sex offenders.

As civil rights attorney Alejandra Caraballo wrote on social media, under HB 2885, a “teacher in teacher in Missouri could be charged with a felony and put on the sex offender registry for using they/them pronouns for a student.” This is absurd and incredibly dangerous.

Creating a supportive school environment is essential for decreasing the risk of suicide among LGBTQ youth, Zane McNeill notes. Plenty of data back up McNeill’s point, including a 2023 survey conducted by The Trevor Project, which found that transgender and nonbinary youth who identified their school as supportive of their gender identity reported fewer suicide attempts.

We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation staunchly oppose HB 2885. We believe firmly that everyone – including teachers – should be encouraged to support trans youth rather than face unthinkable criminal punishments for simply caring for another human being.

LGBTQ Trans & GNC Youth

photograph of people

A person with long red hair stands in front of a whiteboard. A student faces her. (thisisengineering)

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