Human Rights Campaign Condemns Latest Slate of Hate Out of the Kansas Legislature, Rebukes Lawmakers for Advancing Anti-LGBTQ+ Attacks Mostly Targeting Transgender Youth

by Cullen Peele

Topeka, KS - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, denounced both chambers of the Kansas legislature for passing a slate of anti-LGBTQ+ bills that target both transgender youth and adults in the state. The bills that concurrently passed today – HB 2238, SB 180, and SB 233– are the first anti-LGBTQ+ bills to advance from either chamber of the state legislature this year. Together, they represent an unconscionable, targeted attack on transgender and non-binary Kansans, aimed at preventing them from simply living as their authentic selves for no reason at all, other than discrimination. The bills that passed today, which will each head to a second vote in their opposite chambers next week, include:

  • HB 2238, which prohibits transgender students at all levels of play from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity,

  • SB 180, which suggests a counterfactual, non-scientific definition of sex designed explicitly to exclude transgender people across Kansas law, including in athletics, bathrooms, correctional facilities, domestic violence centers, schools, and more. , and

  • SB 233, which prohibits doctors from providing age-appropriate, best practice healthcare to transgender youth (while permitting cisgender youth to continue to receive similar treatment).

The above legislation is the result of ongoing far-right pressure placed upon lawmakers, spearheaded by political extremists and disinformation campaigns on social media and other platforms. These are merely a few of the hundreds of bills being pushed by national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations across dozens of states.

In response, Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel released the following statement:

“Together, this slate of discriminatory bills passed by the Kansas legislature today amount to nothing more than an all out assault on transgender and non-binary Kansan. The bills – which would ban transgender kids from playing sports with their friends, block access to medically-necessary, age appropriate health care, and exclude transgender Kansans from important services such as domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, school restrooms, and more – together demonstrate that legislators in Kansas are spending far too much time attacking the LGBTQ+ community and far too little time trying to solve real problems. We ask the Kansas legislature to stop these assaults on LGBTQ+ people and to inform their decisions with facts, not fear and misinformation spread by anti-LGBTQ+ extremists.”

Cathryn Oakley, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in state houses across the country introduced a record 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022. The majority of the discriminatory bills targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. Anti-transgender legislation took several forms, including bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity and bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare.

Less than two months into 2023, HRC is already tracking more than 370 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. 150 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.

So far this year, HRC is tracking:

  • 90 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; two have already become law, in Utah and South Dakota,

  • More bathroom ban bills filed than in any previous year,

  • And 28 anti-LGBTQ+ bills which have passed at least one chamber, 10 of which are specifically anti-trans.

Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias and the last two years have been the deadliest for transgender people, especially Black transgender women, we have seen since we began tracking fatal violence against the community. Reports of violence and intimidation against LGBTQ+ people have been making news across the country – with white nationalists targeting a Pride event in Idaho and Proud Boys crashing Drag Queen story hours at local libraries to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs. Finally, anti-LGBTQ+ stigma also drives alarmingly high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, but LGBTQ+ youth who have at least one accepting adult in their life were 40% less likely to attempt suicide.

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