A new bill aims to ban dwarf-tossing contests at bars and strip clubs across Washington.
Sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, Senate Bill 5486 would ban such contests and promotions and any other “recreational activity involving exploitation that endangers the health, safety and welfare of any person with dwarfism.”
Padden said he became aware of the issue when a medical student with dwarfism contacted him about a dwarf-tossing contest last October at a strip club in the city of Spokane Valley. The student was concerned about potential injuries to participants, as people with dwarfism are particularly susceptible to spine and neck injuries, according to advocates for little people.
“There’s nothing funny about dwarf-tossing,” Padden said. “It ridicules and demeans people with dwarfism and causes others to think of them as objects of public amusement. Even when participants are willing, it exposes them to the possibility of lifetime spinal injury.”
The ban would apply to businesses that serve liquor and adult entertainment venues and contests and promotions involving adults shorter than 4-feet-10-inches tall.
According to a news release about the legislation:
"Dwarf-tossing originated in Australia as a pub promotion and spread to America in the late 1980s. People with dwarfism, wearing special padded clothing or Velcro costumes, are thrown onto mattresses or at Velcro-covered targets. Contestants compete to throw the dwarf the farthest. In 1989, Florida enacted a ban on dwarf-tossing at establishments where liquor is served, and New York followed with a similar ban in 1990."
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