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Kansas State Reps Reportedly Had Interns Serve As Designated Drivers & Didn't Investigate Enough Into Sexual Harassment Allegations

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Sexual harassment is increasingly pervasive in our society—from celebrities to taxi drivers to our closest friends. And, of course, even the highest levels of our society aren't immune to this cultural problem because it's also in our state governments (and in our internships.) This is even more apparent as The Kansas City Star recently released an exposé on the sexual harassment of female interns of the Kansas State Capitol, commonly known as the Kansas Statehouse.

According to accounts of the a former legislative staff member recently going on the record, sexual harassment is alive and well at the Kansas Statehouse—from lewd comments to outright demands for sex from Democratic leaders.

Abbie Hodgson, a former chief of staff to House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, spoke out against the harassment that is occurring. She describes herself as "shocked" when she learned that lawmakers were taking advantage of their interns by using them as designated drivers for social events. An internship, as we all know, is supposed to be an "educational opportunity." According to Hodgson, it turned into "predatory" behavior.

Burroughs responded that "these are issues I take very seriously" and that the practice has been stopped. 

For individuals in a position of reporting sexual harassment behavior to their perpetrator, they might find themselves feeling like they have nowhere to go. If you speak out, you might lose your job and your entire career. While growth in some states for reform, both in policy and culture changes, has been promising, there needs to be a cultural shift. Our nation’s leaders are supposed to be our role models. Even if they’re not role models, we need to be able to trust them — and that means we need to commit to holding harassers and abusers accountable. 


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