JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - As equality advocates prepare to descend on the Missouri Capitol to lobby legislators on Feb. 16, the number of anti-LGBT bills introduced in Jefferson City this legislative session has grown to seven with more to come.

Four anti-transgender "bathroom bills introduced:

SB 720, introduced by State Sen. Ed Emery (R-Lamar), would require all public school restrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms be designated for and used by male or female students only.

HB 1624, introduced by State Rep. Steve Cookson (R-Poplar Bluff), would require school districts to designate bathrooms and other facilities as for the exclusive use of individuals of one sex and to prohibit individuals from accessing facilities that do not correspond to their sex.

HB 1847, introduced by State Rep. Jeff Pogue (R-Salem), would require all public restrooms, other than single occupancy restrooms, to be gender-divided.

HB 2303, introduced by State Rep. Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville), would prohibit any public school student from accessing certain facilities that do not correspond to his or her sex unless the student and a staff person are the only persons inside the facility.

"While we are disappointed that several anti-LGBT bills be have been filed already, we look forward to working with the legislature to ensure that all Missourians have an equal opportunity for success, in the workplace, at school, and while receiving services," said Steph Perkins, Interim Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri's statewide LGBT advocacy organization.

The issue went viral in September after students in Hillsboro, Mo. staged a walkout when transgender teen Lila Perry was allowed to use the girls’ locker room and bathrooms. Area transgender rights advocates are taking the legislation seriously and plan to partner with PROMO in lobbying efforts and in an advisory capacity.

"We believe that having our voices and narratives heard will assist in derailing this hateful legislation," said Jaimie Hileman, president of the Metro Trans Umbrella Group. "Accordingly, we as an organization as well as the trans community are focusing on our Trans 101 educational efforts with universities, businesses, and healthcare institutions, but also with specific outreach to school districts. We believe that education on trans lives and issues will help defuse this backlash."

Three "religious freedom" bills introduced: 

HB 2040, introduced by State Rep. John McCaherty (R-High Ridge), would provide that certain religious organizations or persons are not required to participate in any part of a marriage or celebration of a marriage if it would violate a sincerely held religious belief.

HB 2000, introduced by State Rep. Linda Black (R-Park Hills), would allow a licensed and ordained member of the clergy to refuse to solemnize a marriage which is contrary to the religious beliefs of such person.

SB 916, introduce by State Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), would redefine the term "employer" under the Missouri Human Rights Act. The term "employer" is defined to exclude corporations and associations owned and operated and operated by religious or sectarian groups. This act removes that exclusion and instead excludes any house of worship or other religious organization.

Last year, PROMO helped to defeat a record nine anti-LGBT bills while continuing to grow support for the perennial Missouri Non-discrimination Act or MONA. The legislation has been introduced in both chambers of the General Assembly since 1998 and would add LGBT protections to Missouri's Human Rights Statute regarding housing, employment and public accommodation.

MONA has been filed in the Missouri Senate (SB653) by State Sen. Joseph Keaveny (D-St. Louis) and will be introduced in the House shortly.

"Missouri law still says it is legal to fire, evict, or deny service to someone simply because they are gay or transgender," said Perkins. "Every hardworking Missourian should be able to live and provide for their family, including LGBT Missourians. Now is the time to pass the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA)."

Two additional pro-LGBT bills introduced: 

HB 1890, introduced by State Rep. Shamed Dogan (D-St. Louis), would expand the current process of data collection that police officers in Missouri are required to follow during traffic stops to the perceived race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, English language proficiency or national origin of the individual stopped. The law prohibits law enforcement from engaging in biased policing practices

HB 1924, introduced by State Rep. Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City), changes the laws regarding complaints filed with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights by revising the definition of “discrimination” to include unfair treatment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

"I introduced HB1924 because it is important to me that all Missourians have the ability to be protected if they are discriminated against because of who they love and or who they are," said Dunn. "No one would ever be fired or evicted because they love someone of the same sex or their gender identity."

PROMO's annual LGBT Equality Lobby Day will be held on Feb. 16, 2016 at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.



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