HRC today sharply condemned SB 175, a bill that passed in the Kansas House today by a vote of 80-39 that would put LGBT college students at risk of discrimination. The bill would allow public universities to continue funding student organizations that discriminate by restricting their membership and denying LGBT students from participating on the grounds of the organization’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
“Freedom of religion is a core American value, which is why it is already protected by the First Amendment. SB 175 won’t protect our freedom, but it will empower even more discrimination against tens of thousands of college students in Kansas. Not only that, but it will undermine the non-discrimination policies and protections already on the books at colleges and universities across the state,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “This reckless and irresponsible bill has no place in Kansas. Rather than enabling--and even encouraging-- discrimination, the House should instead ensure that all students, including LGBT students, can live free from fear of discrimination.”
The Kansas Board of Regents and University of Kansas are among the institutions in the state that have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The bill is expected to come up for a final vote in the House tomorrow. If the final bill passes the full House, it will proceed to the desk of Gov. Sam Brownback, who made headlines last year for his anti-LGBT executive order that put LGBT Kansans at risk for discrimination. Assuming Brownback signs the bill, it would be the first stand-alone bill of nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills around the country that HRC is currently tracking to be signed into law in 2016.
The attacks on fairness and equality in Kansas are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country. HRC is currently tracking nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills in 32 states. For more information, visit: www.hrc.org/2016legislature.