JEFFERSON CITY – Nearly 40 people rallied around the capital building April 8 for an existence march to bring visibility and awareness to gender and sexual minorities.
The rally was organized by two local 8th graders and a sophomore from St. Louis. The idea of the march began after President Trump’s executive order which allowed each state to pass their own laws regarding the usage of public bathrooms by transgender people.
“My queer friends and I were experiencing an insane amount of inequality, alienation, harassment, and assault that was influenced by our identities and orientations,” said Blue Petty, one of the existence march’s organizers.
The main goal of this march was to help show that transgender, intersex, genderfluid, agender, genderqueer, QTPoC, queer, pansexual, and any other gender non-conforming people exist. Many of the marchers were teenagers of these identities, but many adults and supporters marched as well. “The more people that understand, the less inequality and hate there will be.” said Petty.
The marchers were met some with some opposition, however, the marchers were not phased “We just held our signs higher, chanted louder” said Petty “and we kept on walking”.
“A lot of people don’t understand us right now because they’re uneducated on what it means to be queer, and misunderstanding often leads to hate and fear” said Petty “We try to combat that by showcasing who we are so more people can try to understand and strike up conversations or ask questions about us.”
ST. LOUIS – Attorney General Josh Hawley spoke at a human trafficking safe house on April 3 outlining how his department plans to help fight against human trafficking.
Part of his plan includes creating various regulations under consumer protection laws to help fight and prosecute human trafficking rings that pose as businesses. It will also prohibit debt bondage, which is when a victim is forced to pay off a large debt either through labor or prostitution. To enforce these regulations, he announced the creation of anti-trafficking unit.
However, the task force may not receive all of the funding required. The Missouri House recently voted to cut $7 million from the funding of consumer protection laws.
Human trafficking is defined as a form of slavery when a person is coerced into labor or sex against their will. The amount of reported human trafficking in Missouri nearly doubled from 69 cases in 2015 to 135 in 2016, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
If you have reports of human trafficking you can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-(888) 373-7888.