Grim news from our western border. Lawmakers in every possible Dakota are working to turn their states into that miserable town from "Footloose."

In the Kevin Bacon classic, the movie town didn't want any of its kids to dance. In the Dakotas, it's only some of the kids who might not get to dance, or play, or see the doctor or check a book out of the library.

Which kids? That's for the governments of the various Dakotas to decide.

In North Dakota this week, the state House voted to ban drag and cabaret performances in public or anywhere near children.

In South Dakota, newly elected and already exasperated state Rep. Kadyn Wittman has watched her colleagues introduce a spate of spiteful bills aimed at some of the most vulnerable people in the state.

Legislation that would bar parents and doctors from offering gender-affirming medical care to children. A bill that would wall children away from "lewd" performances where someone is singing, speaking, dancing, acting or existing in a manner that "exhibits a gender identity that is different from the performer's biological sex through the use of clothing, makeup or other physical markers."

And of course, the bill would ban drag performances on state college campuses and any other venue that receives state funding.

The bill seems to target the drag show that South Dakota State University's Gender and Sexualities Alliance puts on every year. Last November, the event — billed as "family friendly" on the campus calendar — drew the wrath of conservatives at the state Legislature, as well as at least one bomb threat.

"I've always wanted to live in that town from "Footloose" where they don't dance or have fun," Wittman tweeted.

The American Civil Liberties Union is tracking 202 bills, across dozens of state legislatures, that target LGBTQ and trans rights.

Seven of those bills are floating around North Dakota alone. Bills to ban books with gay or trans protagonists from public libraries. Bills to block parents from seeking gender-affirming care for their children. Bathroom bills. Bills to let politicians decide where and whether trans children can play sports.

"It is an unusually harsh year for anti-LGBT legislation and specifically anti-trans legislation," said Ryan Thoreson, a North Dakota native and assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

North Dakota's war on nonexistent threats is so comprehensive that one anti-trans bill took time out from being cruel to actual children to attack some imaginary ones.

North Dakota senators drafted a bill to ban litter boxes in classrooms — or any other accommodations for students who identify as animals. It was a ridiculous campaign myth. But the senators threw it into a bill that also banned schools from letting actual children use their preferred pronouns.

Whether these bills pass or not, the damage is done. The children are watching, and they've seen what the people in power think of them.

"The rhetoric around these laws has been very dangerous — with neo-Nazis showing up to drag story hours and bomb threats phoned into hospitals offering gender affirming care," said Thoreson, who tracks LGBT rights for Human Rights Watch. "It just seems like states are doubling down on the strategy of stoking the fire and ignoring the consequences."

The bigotry is focused more narrowly than it was a decade ago, when state legislatures were stepping over themselves in their rush to jam gay marriage bans into state constitutions. Until Minnesota voters said no.

These days, same-sex marriage is just marriage and far too many voters know and like someone who's gay.

But here, in RuPaul's America, drag queens and trans kids are just unfamiliar enough to scare some people into voting.

The best way to keep those voters scared is to make sure they never experience the joys of drag story hour at the library or witness the absolute delight of small children meeting a grownup who enjoys dress-up as much as they do.

And so the people in power use their power to try to stay in power. No matter who it hurts.

"It seems that now they're much more willing use this issue as political cudgel, regardless of the effects," Wittman said. "Even when these bills don't pass, young people's mental health is affected when they are constantly in the public debate and are constantly worrying that their rights are going to be taken away."

Wittman, who was born and raised in Willmar, Minn., wonders what will happen if the drag ban passes before the Broadway touring company of "Tootsie: The Comedy Musical" arrives in Sioux Falls next month.

How much cross-dressing is too much cross-dressing was not the sort of question anybody needed to ask before the Dakotas took such an interest in everyone's pants and everyone's dance.