Kansas lawmaker says Senate’s obsession with genitals warrants crime for outing LGBTQ kids

By: - March 17, 2021 10:47 am

Rep. Brandon Woodard, D-Lenexa, introduces legislation Wednesday during a meeting of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. His bill would make it illegal to disclose a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Rep. Brandon Woodard introduced legislation Wednesday that would make it a crime to disclose a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Lenexa Democrat, one of three openly LGBTQ state lawmakers, said the bill was a direct response to a Senate plan to ban transgender girls and women from high school and college sports.

“This legislation is dangerous and wrong for Kansas, and it will certainly lead to costly litigation and will have a negative impact on our economy,” Woodard said. “Kansas should be a place that is welcoming to all, regardless of who they are who they love.”

LGBTQ supporters say the Senate plan to base participation in athletics on a child’s “biological” gender will intensify scrutiny of vulnerable children, and still could lead to genital examinations despite an amendment adopted Tuesday that removes language dealing with how to resolve gender disputes.

Woodard said his proposed law is necessary because of the Senate’s “obsession with inspecting the genitalia of women.”

Under the Woodard bill, unauthorized disclosure of the sexual orientation or gender identity of someone younger than 18 without the person’s consent would be a misdemeanor. The crime would become a felony if the disclosure is made with the intent to harass, embarrass, intimidate, defame or otherwise inflict emotional, psychological or physical harm.

“Bullying children is wrong and should not be tolerated,” he said.

Liz Hamor, who works with Equality Kansas and GLSEN, said the outing of students to their parents, or anyone, can have harmful repercussions. About 40% of homeless youths are LGBTQ, she said.

“That’s often because they are kicked out of their homes when they come out to their families in unaffirming homes,” Hamor said. “I’ve even received calls from middle school counselors who’ve said, ‘This kid came to school today after coming out to their parents and they aren’t allowed to go home, so what resources are there for them?’ So, outing the kid to their families can be disastrous.”

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Sherman Smith
Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the editor in chief of Kansas Reflector. He writes about things that powerful people don't want you to know. A two-time Kansas Press Association journalist of the year, his award-winning reporting includes stories about education, technology, foster care, voting, COVID-19, sex abuse, and access to reproductive health care. Before founding Kansas Reflector in 2020, he spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. He graduated from Emporia State University in 2004, back when the school still valued English and journalism. He was raised in the country at the end of a dead end road in Lyon County.