‘Please Say Gay’ — Mill Creek Park Protestors Rally Against New Missouri Bill

Protestors respond to SB 134, a law that would ban discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in Missouri schools


Brooke Trammel/Roo News

Protestors gathered in Mill Creek Park in response to “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

Emma Sauer, Staff Writer

  A group of roughly 50 protestors lined up along the sidewalks on the corner of Mill Creek Park last Saturday to rally against a bill that could impact LGBTQIA+ students across Missouri.

  Mill Creek Park, just a three-minute drive from UMKC, is usually a destination for a quiet jog or walking one’s dog. On that afternoon however, the park was filled with students, concerned citizens and activists, all united by one cause. 

  The main concern for the protestors was Senate Bill 134, often likened to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay Act. If passed, discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation would be outlawed in Missouri schools across all grade levels. 

  “I’m a trans man, and the Don’t Say Gay Bill would be directly affronting someone like me 10 or 20 years ago,” said Zachariah Taylor, a protest attendee. “I want to make sure kids growing up know they have options and the right to freedom of speech. “

  The protestor’s response to the bill was a repeated chant and a plea to anyone who would listen: “PLEASE SAY GAY.”

  The protest was organized by North Kansas City High School sophomore, Sylvia Cates, who is deeply involved with her school’s GSA (Gay Straight Alliance). If SB 134 were to pass, her school’s GSA and others across the state would be shut down. Cates organized the protest to highlight this issue. 

  Protestors expressed solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community by flashing colorful flags, boldly painted cardboard signs and waving at passing cars. Rather than anger, the common emotion expressed by the protestors was love for the LGBTQIA+ community and a determination to protect it. 

  “These bills are trying to eliminate my community’s right to healthcare and make us invisible at school. That just doesn’t sit right with me,” said Lucien Vernon, a trans teenager. 

  Vernon graduated early from Odessa High School due to death threats and bullying. They worry SB 134 would only increase the ostracization queer students already feel at school and make bullying from their peers more vicious.

  “I’ve worked with my school’s GSA for eight years,” said a North Kansas City teacher attending the protest, who declined to give her full name. “These students are our future. If we endanger our students’ sense of security and self, then we cannot ask them to build on that future.” 

  Despite the concern from students, teachers and other community members, supporters of the bill insist its purpose is not to discriminate.

  “[The bill] is protecting vulnerable children and attempting to protect them from conversations that need to be had with the approval of the parent and potentially at home,” sponsor Senator Mike Moon told a Senate education committee.

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