TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that addresses where transgender people can play in sports. The bill passed the Senate 24 to 10 Wednesday night.
The bill would make Kansas public schools and state college teams set up designations for sports based on biological sex: male, female, or coed.
Some lawmakers said they want to make sure there is an even playing field for girls, while others said banning a specific group of people from playing on certain teams isn’t the right thing to do.
“What we heard in testimony is that there are parents and there are student-athletes that want to compete against folks that have that same physical makeup,” said Louisburg Senator Molly Baumgardner, who chairs the education committee where the bill was voted out of.
The Kansas State High Schools Activities Association and Kansas Board of Regents would have to develop a way to implement the changes.
Language in the bill that the Senate passed on Wednesday points out physical differences between men and women.
Opponents of the bill said this isn’t an issue in Kansas, but if the bill was passed it would harm transgender people in the state.
“Honestly I see it as a matter of bullying, it really will bully these trans kids. They are dealing with so much anyway, everyday just to keep their mental and emotional equilibrium in place, to add this is just one more layer of disrespect, of insult,” said Wichita Representative Mary Ware, who opposes the bill.
She said this would hurt vulnerable youth.
“These kids didn’t make any choices, they were born this way,” Ware said.
On the Senate floor, lawmakers said it’s all about making things fair.
“It is not about sexuality, it is not about orientation, it is not about identity, it is not about discrimination,” said Senate President Ty Masterson. “What it is about very simply, fair competition in women’s sports.”
Masterson said categorizing sports isn’t something new.
“We don’t just subdivide for fairness by sex. We subdivide ages, we subdivide weight, these are physiological differences, this is basic science,” he said.
Baumgardner said there have been complaints on both sides of the issue – if lawmakers do nothing or do something, some group of people would be treated unfairly.
“This discrimination issue, actually those accusations have come from both sides, those that are for and those that are against,” Baumgardner said.
The bill would prevent men in women’s sports, but does not stop females from playing on sports teams designated for males.
The bill now heads to the House.