The Kansas House of Representatives has passed SB 175 – a bill that would put LGBT college students at even greater risk of discrimination. Now headed to Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk, the legislation would force public universities to fund student organizations that discriminate by restricting their membership and denying LGBT students from participating under the guise of “religious beliefs.”
“Each and every lawmaker who voted for this reckless legislation have in doing so abandoned their duty to serve and protect all Kansans. SB 175 has nothing to do with American values or religious liberty and everything to do with blatant discrimination against tens of thousands of college students from all across the country,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “If signed into law, this disgraceful bill would undermine non-discrimination policies and protections at colleges and universities throughout Kansas. We urge Governor Brownback to stand on the right side of history and veto this draconian measure.”
The bill 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. 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.
These policies 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.
Passed by the Kansas Senate last year, the legislation now awaits a decision by Gov. Brownback, who made headlines last year for his anti-LGBT executive order that put LGBT Kansans at risk of greater discrimination. If Gov. Brownback signs the legislation, it would be the first stand-alone anti-LGBT bill signed into law in 2016.