TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)— LGBT activists are urging the governor to veto a bill that would ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports in the state.
“If we want to be a welcoming state where we value people, we need to show that we also value our transgender youth,” said Liz Hamor, community outreach coordinator for Equality Kansas.
The bill would make Kansas public schools and state college teams set up designations for sports based on biological sex: male, female or coed.
Hamor told Kansas’ Capitol Bureau on Wednesday that it’s important for the state to take action to protect the rights and lives of transgender athletes in Kansas.
“Their sense of safety, their sense of belonging in the state has been disrupted. The therapists that we work with, say that the mental health of their youth is at risk right now,” Hamor said.
The senate voted to pass the bill last week, sending it to the governor’s desk to be signed.
Supporters of the measure argue it’s about leveling the playing field for girls and women participating in sports.
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 Senator Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, who chairs the education committee where the bill was voted out of.
Senate Republican leadership doubled down on their stance to back the bill in a press release on Tuesday, despite recent pushback from the National College Athletic Association, NCAA.
“Republicans in the Kansas Senate will not cower in the face of such intimidation and inflammatory rhetoric. We will not back down in defense of fairness in women’s sports. We will not sell out decades of progress by women for a few days of a basketball tournament. We will continue to engage in this debate with scientific facts, civility, and respect.”JOINT STATEMENT SENATE PRESIDENT TY MASTERSON & SEN. RENEE ERICKSON
The sports organization threatened to stop hosting events in states that support similar measures.
“We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”NCAA BOARD OF GOVERNORS
A spokesperson for the governor’s office said the governor will not make a final decision until she’s had a chance to review the bill. The office issued the following statement in an email to Kansas’ Capitol Bureau.
“We didn’t bring in a record amount of capital investment to Kansas by antagonizing businesses. I’m going to support bills that bring jobs to Kansas and oppose bills that drive businesses away.”GOVERNOR LAURA KELLY
The governor has 10 days to decide whether to veto the bill after it gets to her desk before it becomes law.