HALL MONITOR: “YES” on the Given Names Act in Missouri (Senate Bill 1256)

Name: Missouri Senate Bill 1256, The Given Names Act

Summary: Protection of parental rights involving the gender identity of the parent’s minor child and speech protections for school employees. 

Status: Referred to Senate Select Committee on Empowering Missouri Parents and Children Committee on January 25, 2024. 

Sponsor: Senator Jill Carter

Bill Breakdown:

Prohibits school employees from calling students by a name or pronouns other than the child’s given name, and pronouns aligned with the child’s biological sex, without first receiving a parent’s written consent. Schools also may not require employees to refer to another individual by a name and pronouns that are not congruent with the person’s sex if doing so “is contrary to the employee’s… moral or religious convictions.” 

Why does PDE Action support this bill? 

Parents Defending Education, our partner organization, has tracked more than 1,000 school districts across the country that have parental exclusion policies. These policies state that schools may not inform parents if and when their child requests to use another name or pronouns at school. 

PDE Action believes that parents, not school employees, are a child’s first and foremost caretaker. It’s vital for the wellbeing of children to include parents in conversations about mental health and wellbeing. 

Further, the speech protections outlined here are aligned with precedent set in federal court regarding the use of preferred pronouns. Unfortunately, many school districts have adopted anti-harassment policies that require employees to use another individual’s preferred pronouns, even if those do not align with the person’s sex. This constitutes compelled speech. In addition to protecting parental rights, HB 1256 would protect school employees’ rights to free speech.