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Tell Committee Members to Vote NO on HB 1565

Well, it’s happened – the same “Don’t Say Gay” bills sweeping the nation have come to Missouri. Except here, it’s worse – some members of the Missouri General Assembly don’t want schools to talk about gender identity and sexual orientation and if they do, the school district might get sued.

We need you to email members of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee right away to help stop a dangerous bill from becoming law.

HB 1565 scares schools out of providing critical sexual health education. This bill is bad for schools, but what’s worse – it’s bad for kids.

Good sexual health education is medically accurate, comprehensive, and it’s inclusive — meaning it acknowledges and affirms the role of sexual orientation and gender identity in health and development and provides a strong framework in human sexuality that youth can carry into adulthood.
Inclusive and comprehensive sex ed has so many benefits:
• It delays initiation of sexual activity;
• It decrease the number of sexual partners teens have;
• It prevents gender-based violence and sexual assault;
• It decreases incidence of sexually-transmitted infections;
• It increases condom and contraception use and prevents unintended pregnancy;
• It addresses the health needs of LGBTQIA youth; and
• It increases positive mental health outcomes and decreases rates of suicide.

It is especially important that it includes information on gender identity and sexual orientation because students may not receive unbiased information on these topics from other sources. An understanding of gender, power, sexual orientation and consent can prevent sexual harassment and gender-based violence. It also empowers young people who are vulnerable to relationship violence, unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections with knowledge, skills and tools to support their health.

By broadening the definition of human sexuality instruction through HB 1565, we are creating ambiguity around when gender and sexual orientation can be discussed even as it is related to other subjects such as history, art and literature. Does talking about a public figure’s marital status constitute teaching about sexual orientation? Does calling teachers Mr. or Mrs. constitute “school sponsored speech” “relating to gender identity”?

Gender identity and sexual orientation are essential elements of an individual. It is impossible and disrespectful to try and eliminate them from all situations or get parental approval before every classroom discussion that may touch upon them. Instead, we should be encouraging educators to provide students with facts and critical thinking skills so that young people can explore and communicate their own values around these deeply personal topics.

Moves to limit or restrict what students can learn — and how they learn it — do a disservice to our youth and jeopardize their health and development for years to come. This bill takes us in the wrong direction. Parents can already opt out of sexual health education that doesn’t fit with their values, but this bill encourages lawsuits against schools – lawsuits they can’t afford and shouldn’t have to.

HB 1565 will be discussed in committee TuesdayFebruary 25th at 8 am, so we cannot delay. Email the House Elementary and Secondary Education committee members now and tell them this bill is bad for Missouri kids.

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