This morning, HRC blasted Kansas Governor Sam Brownback for signing into law SB 175 – a shameful measure that puts LGBT and other minority college students at even greater risk of discrimination by university-funded student groups. The first anti-LGBT bill signed into law this year, the legislation forces public universities to fund student organizations that discriminate by restricting their membership and denying LGBT students from participating under the guise of “religious beliefs.” Gov. Brownback signed the discriminatory legislation into law late yesterday afternoon.
“Gov. Brownback’s shameful decision to sign this measure into law puts tens of thousands of college students who attend school in Kansas at risk of blatant discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “History has never looked kindly on leaders who promote bigotry and hatred, and Gov. Brownback has recklessly abandoned his responsibility to ensure all students are treated with dignity and respect. This is a dark day for Kansas, and we must find a path to eventually seeing that this deplorable law is ripped out and thrown away.”
The new law jeopardizes non-discrimination policies that have already been put into place by many of Kansas’ educational institutions, including the Kansas Board of Regents and the University of Kansas. These policies require that student organizations which receive financial and other support from the school do not discriminate against students based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. They are incredibly important because they allow all members of the student body to participate in student groups and prevent such groups from discriminating against students with state funding. SB 175 blows a hole right through them – and allows discrimination against any of these groups if one cites a “religious belief” as a justification.
Kansas’ SB 175 is the first stand-alone anti-LGBT bill signed into law in 2016. The attack on fairness and equality 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.