New Missouri bill takes 'Don't Say Gay' law even further

The bill would limit discussions on sexual orientation or gender identity.

February 8, 2023, 1:09 PM

A new Missouri bill takes Florida's controversial Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" law, even further.

The bill says that "no nurse, counselor, teacher, principal, contracted personnel, or other administrative official at a public or charter school shall discuss gender identity or sexual orientation with a minor student" unless they're a licensed mental health care provider and have a guardian's permission.

The Missouri bill goes further than the Florida law, which restricts classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity through kindergarten to grade 3, by not specifying an age group and explicitly barring discussions on these topics.

The bill has already earned backlash from LGBTQ rights organizations and allies. They say the bill has the potential to erase books or lessons about LGBTQ people from classrooms and marginalizes LGBTQ students and faculty.

"The recent 'Don't Say Gay' bill that passed in Florida was step one in erasing conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation within grade school curriculum," PROMO Missouri, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, said in a statement. "Missouri is taking the next giant leap by aiming to stop faculty, staff, and students from talking about these and related topics at all."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the crowd after being sworn in to begin his second term during an inauguration ceremony outside the Old Capitol on Jan. 3, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Lynne Sladky/AP, FILE

The Missouri Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee held a hearing Tuesday on Republican state Sen. Mike Moon's proposed legislation, however committee members did not vote. PROMO Missouri protested the Tuesday hearing.

Supporters of these bills say these restrictions give parents more of a say about what their kids learn in classrooms.

Republican Missouri state Sen. Mike Moon speaks in his Capitol office on Feb. 1, 2022, in Jefferson City, Mo..
David A. Lieb/AP, FILE

Moon's office did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Moon said the bill is "hoping to not spur the conversations, or just stay away from it altogether" and he is "hopeful" it won't interfere with content about history, social studies and other subjects, according to the Springfield News-Leader

Some school districts in Florida have removed books and changed curriculums in the wake of the so-called "Don't Say Gay" law, as well as the "Stop WOKE" law that restricts certain race-related content.

The Missouri bill coincides with the introduction of another bill from Moon that would ban transgender girls from participating in girl's sports and would cut funding to any school that allows it.

Similar bills have been proposed in Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kansas, Indiana and other Republican-led states.

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