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Kansas 'Bathroom Bills' Dead for This Year

Students Protest Transgender Bill

The state legislature adjourned this morning without taking action on bills that would have compensated students upset by sharing facilities with trans people.

Two anti-transgender "bathroom bills" that would have provided rewards for those who reported violations are now dead in the water in Kansas, where the legislature adjourned for the year this morning without taking action on either.

"While Senate Bill 513 was killed a month ago, the identical House Bill 2737 could have potentially been brought up at any time and passed as an emergency measure," LGBT rights group Equality Kansas reports on its website. But after several late nights working on the state budget and other matters, the legislature finished its session at 3:30 a.m. today without taking up either bill. The work of activists across the state helped keep the bills from becoming law, according to Equality Kansas. Opponents of the legislation protested at the state capitol in Topeka last week.

The bills would have barred trans students in public K-12 schools, as well as state colleges and universities, from using the sex-segregated facilities that correspond with their gender identity, including restrooms, showers, and locker rooms. The bills would have provided $2,500 in damages to any student "aggrieved" by witnessing a trans student in the prohibited facilities.

This year has seen so-called bathroom bills introduced in several states. North Carolina infamously passed one that has other harmful provisions, while one was vetoed in South Dakota and another withdrawn in Tennessee. The city of Oxford, Alabama recently enacted the most sweeping piece of anti-trans legislation to date, categorically barring trans people from using any public restroom -- including those inside local businesses -- that matches their gender identity. Those violating the local law, which was passed unanimously by the city council, face a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail. A local ordinance to a similar effect has also been proposed in Rockwall, Texas.

Kansas lawmakers did pass one anti-LGBT bill this session. Senate Bill 175, signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback in March, allows faith-based student groups at state colleges and universities to discriminate against LGBT people and others who offend their religious beliefs, even if the groups receive public funding.

The state is also considering another anti-trans policy, one that does not require legislative action. Brownback has proposed allowing a person to change the gender on their birth certificate only if they sign an affidavit saying the gender was wrongly recorded at birth and provide medical records to prove it. This would effectively prevent trans people from making post-transition alterations to their birth certificate -- which can be a critical step for many trans people looking to obtain official identification that reflects their authentic gender. A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 12 in the Curtis State Office Building in Topeka. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment could adopt the policy without a vote in the legislature.

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