Missouri House Committee to Review Bills Increasing Restrictions on Gender Expression

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri House Committee on Emerging Issues is set to examine multiple pieces of legislation that could significantly impact the expression of gender identity in the state. These bills propose restrictions on gender-related accommodations in schools and workplaces, sparking debate on the boundaries of gender identity.

One collection of proposed bills would require schools across Missouri to provide facilities such as bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms that are segregated by biological sex. Violations of this requirement could result in legal actions against schools. Similarly, another bill aims to extend this provision to all workplaces within the state.

These legislative proposals come in the aftermath of the S.A.F.E. Act, signed into law by Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parson in 2023. The acronym stands for “Save Adolescents From Experimentation,” a name that has faced criticism due to its misrepresentation of gender transition procedures as experimental. Mainstream medical organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Surgeon General, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have all declared these medical interventions as legitimate treatment options.

One bill submitted by State Representative Adam Schnelting seeks to align state law’s understanding of gender with biological sex, suggesting that gender and sex are interchangeable terms. This approach would overlook the social and cultural distinctions between gender and biological sex, compelling individuals to conform their gender identity to their biological sex.

The legislation under review includes HB 1520, which aims to ban gender-affirming treatment on a permanent and retroactive basis. Furthermore, HB 1519 seeks to protect medical professionals from liability if they refuse to assist with a gender transition. Other bills focus on specific locations, such as private workplaces (HB 1674) and schools (HB 2355), mandating separate facilities based on biological sex. Some proposed legislation even provides a legal framework for suing non-compliant schools (HB 2308).

Although House Majority Floor Leader Jon Patterson has indicated that his caucus does not plan to prioritize LGBTQ issues, State Senator Denny Hoskins, a member of the “Missouri Freedom Caucus,” vehemently supports continued restrictions on gender expression.

As this contentious debate plays out, both proponents and opponents of these bills contend that they have the best interests of children in mind. However, critics argue that addressing pressing issues such as education and crime should take precedence.

The review of this legislation by the Missouri House Committee on Emerging Issues reflects the ongoing struggle to navigate the complexities of gender identity while implementing policies that satisfy various stakeholders.