COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The University of Missouri chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America plans to present a proposed ordinance Monday to the Columbia City Council that would make the city a sanctuary for LGBTQ+ people.
Mizzou YDSA chair Mel Tully is on the City Council agenda for public comment on the proposed ordinance. The organization plans to present the ordinance in the hopes of having a council member take it up as a bill and eventually pass it. The Columbia City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
"If someone asked me right now if they were trans or had a trans kid, if they should move to Columbia or Missouri in general, I think my answer would be no," Tully said.
Tully said the organization approached all the council members about the ordinance before Monday. Ward 5 Councilman Don Waterman tells ABC 17 News that he's seen the ordinance and is considering it, but will not comment further.
Ward 4 Councilman Nick Foster said he is sympathetic to the initiative.
"Members of our community feel they are at risk in terms of the provision of health care, their acceptance in the community, and their safety," Foster said. "If there is a way for the Council to respond in an effective manner, I want to explore those options."
The city and county prosecutors did not respond to ABC 17's questions about the legality of a city ordinance meant to override state law. Foster said, "As to enforceability, I think this will require review by the City's legal office."
The ordinance addresses the many bills introduced by the Missouri Legislature this year on LGBTQ+ issues and recent hate crimes, such as the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Florida.
The ordinance would prevent the city from penalizing or criminally prosecuting someone for seeking gender-transition care. It also prevents the city from gathering information on someone's biological sex.
Reese Holcomb with Mizzou YDSA said it aims to not only address current laws but get ahead of possible future laws, such as a drag show ban, which has been proposed in cities like Rolla and Branson.
"It's not just looking at legislation that's already been created. It's looking at the future and being proactive about protecting LGBTQ community," Holcomb said.
The ordinance is somewhat inspired by a resolution passed in Kansas City, Missouri, and an ordinance in Lawrence, Kansas. The Kansas City resolution has been criticized for being largely symbolic, but Holcomb said the ordinance would hold more power.
"As an ordinance, it has actual power, actual effect, and a difference with Kansas City is that they don't exactly have control of their police department," Holcomb said. "Whereas in Columbia, police are city employees. So we are able to talk directly with enforcement and with the city manager to actually put this ordinance into effect.
Senate Bill 49, also called the "Missouri Save Adolescents From Experimentation" or "S.A.F.E." Act, doesn't allow anyone under the age of 18 to receive any surgeries, puberty blockers or hormone therapies that aid in transitioning genders.
The bill was approved by the legislature and signed this year by Gov. Mike Parson.
One exception to the rule allows for anyone who began taking puberty blockers and hormones before it went into effect to continue. The part of the law banning puberty blockers and hormones expires in four years, but the part of the law banning surgery for minors has no expiration date.
The law could also affect adults because Medicaid will no longer cover gender-affirming treatments.
Because of that law, Washington University Hospital in St. Louis and the University of Missouri Health Care System in Columbia both ended their transgender care options for minors altogether.
The law also makes it illegal for any physician or health care provider to perform any gender transition procedures on minors. They also will not legally be allowed to refer any minor to another health care provider to have the procedure done.
Physicians who choose to continue doing so could lose their practicing license or be sued for up to 15 years after the treatment.
Another law that requires all athletes to compete on teams of the gender they were assigned at birth will also go into effect on Monday. This applies to all public school districts, private schools or public charter schools that offer athletics through the Missouri State High School Activities Association. According to MSHSAA, 10 students from 10 different schools are affected by the law.
Those 10 students had their eligibility as transgender students rescinded, MSHSAA spokesman Jason West previously told ABC 17 News. The schools were notified that the students now had to follow the new law.
MSHSAA cannot disclose where those students go to school because of privacy policies.