JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The 2016 Missouri legislative session kicked off on Jan. 6 with LGBT equality advocates preparing to fight a host of anti-equality bills in the Republican controlled General Assembly while championing non-discrimination protections.

Three anti-transgender "bathroom bills' have already been filed and according to PROMO, Missouri's statewide LGBT advocacy organization, more anti-LGBT legislation is expected.

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.

"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.

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."

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.

"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)."

MONA was pre-filed this year by State Sen. Joseph Keaveny (D-St. Louis County) as SB 653.

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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