Missouri Considers Bill to Ban School Encouragement of Child Gender Transition

By Jackson Elliott
Jackson Elliott
Jackson Elliott
Jackson Elliott reports on family-related issues and small-town America for The Epoch Times. His current focus centers around parental rights in education, as well as the impact of progressive ideology in curricula and transgenderism in youth. He can be reached at: jackson.elliott@epochtimes.us
February 10, 2023Updated: February 17, 2023

Teachers shouldn’t encourage young children to get sex changes, a proposal in Missouri states.

The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act prohibits school personnel from affirming or encouraging sex orientation changes in children in middle school and lower grades without parental permission.

Missouri state Sen. Mike Moon, a Republican, introduced the bill.

The legislation addresses a common situation across the United States. From New Jersey to Maine to California to Wisconsin, school authorities have taken the initiative to help children change genders. Often, these actions have happened without the consent or knowledge of parents.

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Flags displayed in a classroom at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, Wash., in 2022. (Courtesy of Gabe Galbraith)

For many parents, these situations have felt like nightmares. Schools have often sided with children identifying as transgender over their parents.

Maine parent Amber Lavigne’s daughter told her that she had been secretly identifying as transgender while at school, as previously reported.

A social worker, Sam Roy, encouraged Lavigne’s daughter in her transgender identity.

“[A worker] at the school encouraged a student to keep a secret from their parents!” Lavigne said. “This is the very definition of child predatory sexual grooming.”

Even without open encouragement, a school’s support can make the difference between a child choosing to transition or listening to parents, stories show.

A woman named Rachel said her daughter used the approval of school employees as a justification for her transgenderism, as previously reported. High school teachers referred to Rachel’s daughter by a man’s name, the child’s mother said.

“Ask anyone in my life. I’m a man. You are the only one who doesn’t see that, which means you’re, by definition, delusional,” Rachel recalled her daughter saying.

Whatever causes people to change their gender, it seems to affect young people the most. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies, transgenderism is nearly three times as common among American teens as it is among adults.

Schools have often encouraged transgenderism on the grounds of inclusivity. Across America, rainbow flags and stickers decorate publicly funded classrooms and school hallways.

Don’t Teach Gender Transition

The measure’s text is simple.

“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 such nurse, counselor, teacher, principal, personnel, or official is a mental health care provider licensed under chapter 337 with prior permission from the student’s parent or legal guardian,” it reads.

The bill further defines “gender identity” as a “preconceived notion of someone’s psychological, behavioral, social, and cultural aspects of being a biological male or biological female.”

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An illustration encouraging children to think of gender as a spectrum was distributed by Gorham High School in Maine. (Photo Courtesy of HB)

It defines biological males and biological females based on male or female genitalia.

The proposal is likely to be approved by Missouri’s Republican-led state legislature and governor.

The bill may find fresh urgency from whistleblower Jamie Reed. As previously reported, Reed accused the Washington University Transgender Center of engaging in unethical practices on children.

Formerly, she worked at the St. Louis center.

These practices included continuing to prescribe transition medications even after a child’s parent revoked consent—and after patients reported adverse effects after taking those prescriptions, according to Reed.

“We lied to [parents] all the time,” she said of her work at the center. “These doctors would push, and push, and push … and somehow, the doctors thought that was a true good consent.”

Parents’ Rights and Free Speech

Missouri isn’t the first Republican-led state to consider legislation opposing sex changes for children. Oklahoma has legislation that seeks to end child sex change surgeries and cross-sex hormone use.

However, it remains to be seen if proposals such as Missouri’s and Oklahoma’s will survive challenges in court.

Some clues may be found in how U.S. law treats religion in schools.

According to a First Amendment Center guide, public school teachers must be neutral concerning religion while carrying out their duties as teachers. If students ask public school teachers about their religious beliefs, teachers can answer as long as they aren’t attempting to convert children, according to the guide.

“The teacher may answer at most with a brief statement of personal belief—but may not turn the question into an opportunity to proselytize for or against religion,” it reads.

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Detransitioned teen Chloe Cole takes part in a demonstration in Anaheim, Calif., on Oct. 8, 2022. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

In short, these rules allow teachers to talk about religion if children ask about it.

However, Missouri’s bill forbids school employees from even discussing gender identity with students. It remains to be seen whether such a strict ban can survive the courts.

There may be some precedent in laws that allow students to opt out of curriculum that their parents find objectionable.

According to Parents Defending Education (PDE), many states allow parents to opt out of school curricula that they deem objectionable, such as sex education. But opting out isn’t a universal right under the law, PDE notes.

“Unfortunately, the ability to opt out of educational material is not universal. The majority of state laws were written specifically with sex and health instruction in mind,” according to its guide.

Courts could decide whether parents should have the right to opt out of school speech about gender identity. Or they could decide that teachers should have the right to share their beliefs on gender.

Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, Moon, and the Missouri chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union didn’t respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.