KANSAS CITY, Mo – Senator Greg Razer demands answers after an exhibit on the history of the LGBTQ rights movement in Missouri was pulled from the State Capitol.
The traveling exhibit, which was on display at the Missouri State Museum, was produced in part by the University of Missouri-Kansas City and was scheduled to run until December 26.
RELATED | LGBTQ history exhibit removed from Missouri Capitol museum
“After four days I found out that it had been taken apart and [the] traveling exhibition put back in a cupboard. I feel like I’ve been put back in a closet, ”said Razer, who represents District 7 which includes parts of Jackson County. “I looked at what was in this exhibit. There is nothing inappropriate. There is nothing to be ashamed of. These are things to celebrate.”
Razer is the only openly gay member of the Missouri Senate.
He said the exhibit represented and told the stories of people who brought him to his elected office today. The exhibit showcases Kansas City’s vital role in the fight for gay rights, including its opportunity to host the first-ever national LGBTQ civil rights conference.
“There are members that I serve with who want to silence this story, who don’t want it told, because they are being bothered,” Razer said. “I don’t know exactly by what, but certainly by the fact that I exist.”
The museum, which is on the first floor of the Missouri Capitol, is operated by Missouri State Parks, which is under the direction of the Department of Natural Resources.
Razer contacted Missouri State Parks Director Mark Sutherland.
“I just spoke on the phone with the man who was in charge, who made the decision,” Razer said. “I didn’t get a clear answer, so we have a formal request from Sunshine to his office, and we will get the answers.”
Razer hopes to find out who was behind the initiative to remove the exhibit and why. He does not know if the matter was discussed in public with other members of the General Assembly in Missouri.
“Legislative power really has nothing to do with the exhibits on display in this museum,” Razer said. “However, the legislature oversees the budget of the state parks service.”
On Tuesday, a legislative assistant to Representative Mitch Boggs took to social media and asked why a “taxpayer-funded museum is advancing the LGBT agenda in our state capital?”
Uriah Stark returned the next day to thank “several of our elected officials,” including Republican Representatives Ann Kelley and Brian Seitz for removing the exhibit.
We contacted the offices of both representatives and received a response from Representative Brian Steiz:
“My implication was that I simply called the museum director and left a message for a return call (which I did not receive). My question would have been, “Why was this time chosen for posting, is it necessary, and was there an agenda behind the calendar, as schoolchildren may be making trips to the Capitol in the near future?” Would this exhibit have been appropriate for their age and does it represent the feelings and concerns of most Missourians? “
– Representative Brian H. Seitz
Gov. Mike Parson’s office said the exhibit was pulled after the Natural Resources Department failed to meet legal approval requirements:
“The Ministry of Natural Resources manages the museum, and state law requires the ministry to coordinate museum-related activities with the Public Buildings Council. The process prescribed by law was not followed in this case, which led the Department of Natural Resources to remove the sign. “
– Kelli R. Jones, Director of Communications to Governor Mike Parson
Natural Resources Department communications director Connie Patterson confirmed the information from the governor’s office on Thursday afternoon:
“We take our commitment to telling the stories of Missouri seriously and regret that we neglected to follow RSMo section 184.101. We are committed to working with the Public Meetings Council regarding Exhibitions and Exhibitions at the Capitol. “
–Connie Patterson, Director of Communications for the Department of Natural Resources