Steph Perkins | St. Louis Public Radio

Steph Perkins

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar speaks with a St. Louis Public Radio reporter at his office in downtown Clayton on Tuesday. Nov. 5, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Sgt. Keith Wildhaber’s nearly $20 million jury verdict hit St. Louis County government like a lightning bolt. 

The huge award sparked internal and external scrutiny of one of Missouri’s largest law enforcement agencies about how it treats LGBTQ employees. It’s also prompted a debate about whether Missouri should pass more explicit laws to protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

From left, Steph Perkins, Curtis Galloway and Emily Klamer joined Don Marsh for a discussion about LGBTQ mental health.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis on the Air

While LGBTQ Pride Month is typically a time for celebration among the local queer community, mourning has also marked this year’s observance as several St. Louis-area residents have died by suicide and overdose in the wake of national news of celebrity deaths.

“The numbers of suicide attempts and LGBTQ people taking their own lives is something like nine times the rate for trans people and three times the rate of the national average for LGB people, and it’s very much increased by victimization and discrimination that we face every day,” Steph Perkins said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Mazy Gilleylen (standing in front), a transgender girl from Overland, cemmemorates lives lost with her brother Seth and parents Amber and Donte Gilleylen, on the 2015 Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Transgender Memorial Garden.
File photo | Provided | Yuting Jiang

So far this year, at least 25 transgender people have been murdered across the country, two in Missouri, one  of which was in St. Louis.

On Monday, supporters in the St. Louis area will pay tribute to those victims as part of a national effort, the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The annual event is held every Nov. 20.