They Can’t Pick on Me So They’re Ganging Up on Kids: Missouri’s Lone Out Gay State Senator Speaks Up Against Republican Colleagues’ Cruelty
Remind me what kind of people go after the small and vulnerable?
Right now Missouri has the dubious status of being the second crappiest place to be in the U.S. if you belong to the LGBTQ community, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which recently pointed out that the deep red state is second in the nation in anti-LGBTQ bills in process or on the books at a whopping 31. Oklahoma only recently took over the dishonor in February with 34 such bills.
Greg Razer, the only openly gay state senator in Missouri is doing his best to show up and speak up on behalf of the youth he believes are being targeted by the GOP bigots who write and support these harmful pieces of legislation. In an interview with Kathy Gilsinan for Politico, Razer says he believes these lawmakers are targeting youths specifically because it’s finally socially unacceptable to publically target cis, white gay men in 2023, at least in public. “They can’t attack me anymore,” he told Politico, “so now they’re coming after kids.”
A huge portion of the 31 anti-LGBTQ bills targets Missouri citizens under 18. And there is a lot of overlap in their content. The main issues that come up over and over are banning transgender students from playing on the sports team matching their gender identity and prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors, according to reporting from Politico. A third common issue is Missouri’s version of the majorly backward “don’t say gay” bill coming out of Florida, which in essence prohibits educators from kindergarten through third grade from acknowledging, let alone teaching, anything about LGBTQ people or culture existing.
Razer said he routinely talks to some of the kids being affected by these bills and it’s not pretty. “What I really hear from the kids, because some of them play sports. You know, they’re 11. It’s just that fear of, why are these adults are doing this to us? Why is this happening? And it’s hard to explain that to them,” he said. “I’m tired of having to hug crying 11-year-olds after committee hearings. I’m glad I’m there to do it. But I’m tired of it.”
Razer said that out of about 311,000 kids playing middle and high school sports in Missouri, only about five of those are trans kids asking for the right to play. “We’re talking about less than 1/1000 of 1 percent,” Razer notes. So why is it the biggest deal in all those overlapping anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ+ bills?
Razer thinks multiple far-right state legislators want to take the credit and show their constituents that they were the ones to punish trans kids. “There might be eight members of the House of Representatives who all want to go home and say they filed the bill. And so, they all filed the identical bill. And then at some point in the process, they mesh all those together and make one bill … So they can all go home and say, ‘I kicked a trans kid in the face.’”
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]