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Lawmakers move forward with anti-transgender legislation following week of controversy


Missouri senators speculate that LGBTQ+ issues -- which dominated discussion this week -- may take up a large chunk of the legislative session.

In just the first few weeks of the 2023 session, Missouri lawmakers have been vocal about drag queens, drag performances and gender-affirming surgeries since a controversial Columbia Public Schools field trip last week. The discussion started when some CPS students took a field trip to a city event that involved a drag performance.

Lawmakers were at the Capitol past midnight Tuesday to discuss trans-student athletes and gender-affirming surgeries, bills that were added to that hearing schedule following the controversy around CPS.

Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) was the first Missouri Republican to speak out against the field trip on social media. Gov. Mike Parson and new Attorney General Andrew Bailey, also Republicans, followed.

Rowden said Thursday that his issue is with the way the district handled the field trip.

"My issue is much less about drag shows, I have no general opinion about drag shows, I've never been to one," Rowden said. "My issue, and what I'm going to bring up to the superintendent, is the lack of communication on the front end and basically the unwillingness to take any responsibility for that lack of communication on the back end."

Senate Republican leaders said Thursday that what comes up first in the legislative session typically sets the tone for the year.

Bills about transgender children have been discussed for years. A bill banning trans-student athletes from participating in women's sports was introduced last year but didn't make it far.

"There's more bills about trans kids playing sports than there are trans kids that want to play sports," said Sen. John Rizzo (D-Kansas City).

Democrats threw up a warning flag about the coming culture war debates last week, when House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) asked Republicans not to waste time on such issues when there's more important work to be done.

Shira Berkowitz with PROMO Missouri advocates for LGBTQ+ rights. They said that based on their own experience as a trans person, many arguments against trans-youths hold no merit.

"Not only showing that Missouri is aligning with a national trend of attacks on trans kids, but it's also showing that there is so much discrepancy or discussion between what the issue even is in the first place," Berkowtiz said.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics
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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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