CLAYTON — St. Louis County raised flags celebrating gay pride Wednesday to mark the beginning of LGBTQ Pride Month.
County Executive Sam Page said in a press briefing that the flags make “clear that St. Louis County is a welcoming place to work, live and enjoy.”
“When our LGBTQ employees see the flags, I want them to know that we support them, and we welcome them,” Page said. “And when our residents come to Clayton to do business, I want them to know that we see them and support them.”
Page, a Democrat, also called on the Republican-led Missouri Legislature to update add specific protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to the Missouri’s Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and age.
“Missouri remains a state where it is still legal to discriminate against someone who’s gay or transgender,” Page said. “And that means a person can be fired, denied housing, or kicked out of a restaurant for being gay or transgender or simply being perceived as gay or transgender.
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“A statewide law would provide clarity and peace of mind to those who can still be discriminated against.”
In March, Page signed a law that added gender identity to the county’s anti-discrimination measures for county employees and expanded the protections to contractors and non-merit employees. The county has barred discrimination based on sexual orientation since 2012.
Page last year also signed an executive order making single-stall bathrooms in county buildings gender neutral. Both measures were supported by a Democratic majority on the seven-member council, and opposed by council Republicans, who argued that they were unnecessary.
Page, a Democrat running for reelection, also decried recent wave of Republican-backed legislation across the country to place limits on gay and transgender youth.
That includes a controversial Florida law barring school education about LGBTQ issues, a measure dubbed by LGBTQ-rights advocacy groups as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
In Missouri, the Republican-led legislature approved a bill limiting athletes to teams that match the gender listed on their birth certificate and a measure allowing school districts to vote on whether to enact sports bans. And diversity and equity efforts in some St. Louis County school districts have seen a backlash from some parents who have called for stripping the discussion from curriculum.
“Across the country as we are seeing gay and trans kids under attack,” Page said. “The infamous don’t say gay bill in Florida; the battles over which bathrooms kids should use, the debates over what should be taught to our children, because it can have a gay character, or a storyline that shows people of color have been historically treated differently … as we officially kicked off Pride Month, let’s stand with our trans kids our gay colleagues and family members, our children who are trying to navigate what could be a very complicated world.”