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BREAKING: Gov. Mead Says Social Issue Bills Detract From Education Legislation

Tom Morton, Townsquare Media
Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

A bill to prohibit a person from using public restrooms not designated for their person’s sex would undermine the work of school districts, take a lot of valuable time, and run counter to Wyoming values, Gov. Matt Mead said Thursday.

“Wyoming always wants to be recognized as a state that respects the rights of all people, gay and transgender, (and) respects the religious liberties and rights of people,” Mead said after signing a proclamation in support of the Wyoming Rescue Mission’s work with the homeless in Casper.

House Bill 244 would make it a crime for anyone to use a public restroom or changing room that is not designated for that person’s sex. It would restrict facility use based upon “the person’s sex identified at birth by the person’s anatomy.”

But the results of that bill would run counter to the efforts of school officials who work with transgender students and their families to thwart bullying, Mead said. “We don’t want our kids bullied if they are gay or transgender or for any other reasons.”

Mead also disagreed with the intent of House Bill 135, the Government Non-Discrimination Act, which its sponsors withdrew Thursday afternoon. It’s proponents said it would protect the religious rights of people who believe in traditional marriage. It’s critics called it one of the most anti-LGBT pieces of legislation in the country.

Social issue bills such as these, Mead said, detract from what the Legislature’s main job should be this session,

“We should focus on education, we should focus on ‘are we taking care of our seniors’ or ‘what are we doing on roads,'” he said.

“These issues that we’re talking about, they tend to take a tremendous amount of time, cause a lot of angst, and as you’ve seen them come up before they generally don’t reach the end anyway,” Mead said. “If you’re spending five days on that, that’s five days we’re spending trying to figure out how to make sure we have a great education system in our state.”

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