In the latest chapter of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?,” bills in both the house and senate have been introduced, ThinkProgress reports, that not only would ban transgender public school and college students from using the bathroom of their gender identities — but would also award $2,5000 to anyone who sees a transgender person in the “wrong” bathroom.
The $2,500 would be to compensate for “all psychological, emotional and physical harm suffered as a result of a violation of this section.”
The bills, which couldn’t even get individual sponsors and had to be introduced by committees, come in the final weeks of the state’s legislative session, where both chambers are controlled by Republicans.
One of the few lawmakers who have spoken in support of them is Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R), who said, “Parents have reached out afraid for their children’s safety and they do not want attention for fear of being called a bigot, this legislation ensures accommodations, while still protecting everyone’s privacy rights.”
But Rep. Stephanie Clayton (R) said the bills were a distraction from more important budget priorities still facing the legislature this session, which ends April 1. “No matter how you feel on the issue,” she said, “this demonstrates a distinct lack of focus.”
LGBT advocates are speaking out against the bills. In Kentucky’s Lexington Herald Leader, Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, said, “This is isolating [transgender] kids–and it’s not going to end well. It’s outing them. It’s putting a target on their backs.”
The bills would also apply to Kansas public colleges and universities, which, if they went along with the policy, would be opening themselves up to lawsuits based on federal gender antidiscrimination laws.
And they’re not the only anti-LGBT bills in Kansas at the moment. Bills that recently passed both chambers and now sit before the governor would make it legal for college student groups to ban LGBT students while still receiving public funding. Kansas is now “the first state to pass such a sweeping anti-transgender bill,” Think Progress writes.