Legislative Update: Health Care, Higher Ed, and DEI Professionals, We Need You!

Jul 8, 2024

Share on Social

DEI is Under Attack This Week

We’re incredibly grateful to the community members and fellow Missourians who joined us last Monday to testify against HB 1518 (Hudson) in the House Special Committee on Government Accountability. The bill claims to prohibit colleges and universities from “discriminating” against student organizations based upon their belief systems. In actuality, the bill allows for hate speech and hateful conduct to be protected and spread on campuses.

Lawmakers continue to use their theme of protecting Missouri’s youth but fail to address actual issues facing our youth right now — education, poverty, gun violence, and mental health. If legislators are keen on protecting young people, they should prioritize legislation like the Youth Mental Health Preservation Act which has been filed in the Senate by Senators McCreery and Arthur and in the House by Representatives by Representatives Ingle, Nurrenbern, and Strickler.

TL;DR — Here are the FOUR steps to take action this week:

  1. Sign up to testify with us on Tuesday, February 13 at 2 p.m. against four bills eliminating state funding for DEI initiatives and programs.
  2. Can’t make it on Tuesday? Submit written testimony on HB 2365, 2448, 2569, and 2619 sharing your voice and expertise through the House website.
  3. Support community members testifying in-person by donating $15.50 for gas cards to help offset their costs.
  4. Contact your Representative and urge them to vote NO on HB 1520  (see details on bill below).

The House General Laws Committee plans to hear four bills on Tuesday, February 13 at 2 p.m. The bills (HB 2365 – Richey, HB 2448 – Hudson, HB 2569 – Baker, HB 2619 – Smith) would have a direct impact on multiple state departments and programs by eliminating their ability to fund programs related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Health care including state-funded senior services and mental health programs would not be able to provide the highest level of care possible, higher education could not give fair access to education to every Missourian, and state agencies would not be able to diversify Missouri’s workforce, strengthening our economic development and overall ability for everyone to thrive. Additionally, state departments would not be able to award contracts or do business with any company that prioritizes DEI initiatives.

Every single LGBTQ+ Missourian, just like every other Missourian, deserves access to the best possible health care, education, and work opportunities. We’re asking you to join us to testify particularly if you are someone in health care, in state-funded higher education, or work within the DEI realm. If you are interested in testifying with us, please fill out the form below. 

The other important update from the House is that HB 1520 (Hudson) was voted out of the House Rules Legislative Oversight Committee in executive session. What this means is the bill is now added to the House calendar and can be brought up for floor debate at any time. A reminder that House journals list every bill that COULD be up for debate but it does not mean every bill on the list WILL be debated on the floor that day.

You might remember that HB 1520 is made up of two bills, one that gives doctors a license to discriminate and refuse to offer gender-affirming surgery (HB 1519) and another removing the grandfather and sunset clauses of the current gender-affirming health care ban (HB 1520). We need you to contact your Representative and urge them to vote NO on HB 1520 when it comes time to vote.

While the pace of this legislative session is slower compared to last year, it does not mean the associated rhetoric and political violence is any less harmful. We encourage you to continue prioritizing your needs and mental health as we take turns showing up as a community. Here are a couple of other ways you can help that don’t require you to come to the State Capitol:

  1. Submit written testimony against HB 2365, HB 2448, HB 2569, and HB 2619 through the House website until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, February 13.
  2. Support our community members testifying in-person by donating $15.50 for us to purchase gas cards to help offset their costs.

This week in a nearly five hour hearing, we testified against a slate of four bills focused on restricting minors from accessing harmful material on the internet. We agree children should not have access to pornography, and that online platforms should be held accountable when social media sites are easily used to harass, bully, and abuse children. However, these bills do not do that. 

These bills won’t just require collecting identification from minors. They would collect “Personal Identifiable Information” from everyone who is using social media sites or accessing pornography regardless of age or purpose. Additionally, HB 2157 forces all minors to acquire internet patrolled parental consent to access resources and community online. This poses a risk to LGBTQ+ youth — especially rural youth — of being outed, facing violence, or family rejection, and chilling the ability of young people to use social media as a means of finding community, educational resources, and support related to their identity.