Amber Gilleylen

While we see a record number of 19 anti-LGBTQ bills in the Missouri Legislature this year, we are also seeing a record number of voices being shut out from testifying on issues that directly impact them. I was one of the parents who was stifled while fighting for my kid.

On March 10, the House Judiciary Committee heard HB 2051 and HB 1721, both bills that would criminalize parents and doctors from providing trans-affirming medical care.

Despite bill sponsors who did not provide any Missouri-based evidence for these bills, what we saw from the community was nothing short of patriotic. The people of Missouri showed up. Fifty-plus courageous individuals waited five hours to testify. They were then told they would only have 30 seconds to tell their unique, personal stories.

This was a blatant attempt at muting our voices to speak out about something that will harm our children. To say that we have 30 seconds to advocate on our child's life and the possible death sentence that they would be placing on them is outrageous. My child's life is worth more than 30 seconds!

After pushing back, a few of us were allowed to talk for slightly longer, but most were still kept under a minute. Do I think I had my voice heard? Barely. More importantly, can I tell you that our government is committed to listening? Emphatically, no.

These bills are dangerous and discriminatory. They inspire nightmares for us parents, and yet we found ourselves pouring our hearts out over the sound of a timer reminding us to hurry along. Nearly 100 of us came from hours away to make our voices heard and educate our elected officials on the devastating impacts of these bills. What we witnessed was just how undemocratic and rigged our supermajority-controlled Missouri legislature continues to be.

This is not normal and must not be excused. This was purposely orchestrated by adults who claim to care about my child. We have a government that is set up to allow us to use our voices, but this was a clear statement to us that we do not matter. Missouri kids do not matter. How shameful.

These bills could permit the government to break up and harm my family, and I get mere seconds? I’m angry. I don’t care what issue people come to speak on, listen. We put you in those seats to represent us. You cannot represent us if you won’t take the time to learn about us.

As someone who waited, who wept as others testified, who listened to the committee chair threaten to shut us down if we made any noise at all outside of our 30 seconds of testimony, who sat nervously as police officers gathered outside the committee room, I have to tell you that I am outraged. You should be too, and you should be loud about it. I know I am done being quiet while I watch this body threaten our children.

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