Students, parents pressure general assembly on LGBTQ issues

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Gay Straight Alliance Network organized a "Trans Youth Justice Day" at the state capitol on Wednesday in an effort to humanize the cause. 

An estimated 20 students, parents, and organizers went door to door lobbying lawmakers on issues facing the LGBTQ community.

"I hope that the students here learn about how to build relationships with legislators, and for legislators to be educated about the issues and how it affects these childrens' lives," said Lara Wakefield, a parent volunteer.

Wakefield said she went to lobby due to her concern about the civil rights of LGBTQ students in the state.

The group distributed talking points to its volunteers, including suicide prevention training for teachers, inclusive sex education for Missouri Classrooms, zero tolerance on bullying and gender inclusive bathrooms for students. 

The lobbying efforts came at a time when Senate Bill 98, nicknamed the "bathroom bill," is working its way through the Missouri Senate Education Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, would require students to use the restrooms, showers, and locker rooms of their biological sex. The bill says best accommodations ought to be made for those who assert their gender is different than the biological sex. 

GSA volunteer Zach Goldford said, "I feel a lot of these bills are very destructive towards our students."

Emery said the purpose of his bill is to make public schools accommodate all individuals.

He said, "It's focused on the privacy and the safety of every student in public education."

Emery said he believes the Senate has the votes to pass the bill shortly.