Topeka (KSNT) — This month, Kansas lawmakers passed a bill that will soon bar transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports. Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach and ACLU of Kansas legal fellow D.C. Hiegert shared their opinions on the issue with Inside Kansas Politics host Rebekah Chung.

Last week, the Biden administration unveiled a set of proposed changes to Title IX. Kobach believes it’s a tactic to try to stop states like Kansas from implementing bills like the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.

“Having looked at this rule carefully, I don’t think it’s going to be a compromise,” Kobach said. “I think as a practical matter. It’s going to mean that the Department Of Education is going to come after any state, and now there are many states, that have said only biological girls can compete in girls sports.”

Kobach went on to say that his office is ready to step in if the Biden Administration tries to stop the bill.

“And of course, we will be ready to defend the Kansas law that was just passed by the legislature if any group on the left such as the ACLU. They’ve threatened to bring a lawsuit and if they do we will meet them in court. And I’m pretty confident we will prevail.” Kobach said.

Fairness has been a major argument in this debate over transgender athletes participating in women’s sports. The U.S. Department Of Education says that categorically barring transgender athletes in that way would be a violation of Title IX which prohibits sex discrimination at institutions that receive federal funding.

“So I think the Biden Administration is completely twisting the meaning of Title IX,” Kobach said. “Title IX was enacted decades ago to create a realm of women’s sports that is funded by the federal government [and] it’s because of Title IX that we have such well-funded college athletic programs for women’s sports. And the intent of Title IX, very clearly spelled out by Congress, was to create an area where women and girls could compete fairly against other females and it was to create a sporting realm where there was fairness.”

A current policy that the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) has in place regarding transgender athletes is similar to what the Biden Administration has in place or is proposing. Under the KSHSAA policy, schools are given the ability or choice to consider gender identity used for school registration records, medical documentation, or gender identity-related advantages to the student.

The new Kansas law would take away the option for schools to decide and instead, transgender athletes would have to participate based on their biological sex determined at birth. Kobach said he believes he is on very strong legal ground and says what the Biden Administration is doing is trying undermine Title IX not enforce it.

D.C. Hiegert with the ACLU of Kansas agrees with Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s statement expressing disappointment over the outcome of the veto override. Hiegert believes that it’s important to protect the rights of all Kansans which includes young trans Kansans.

“I think this is an overarching theme with anti-trans legislation that we’ve seen introduced in the Statehouse. I think there all examples of legislators getting involved where we don’t need the government to get involved,” Hiegert said. “Schools or athletic associations that are tasked with handling these policies for the communities they represent, we’re already doing this.”

Hiegert says it’s frustrating to see the bill consistently being brought up even though KSHSAA has had a policy in place with no problems.

Another question that’s been brought up during the debate over transgender athlete participation is whether they should compete in a league of their own.

“I don’t think the solution is to further other the trans students that are just trying to have the same opportunities that all other Kansas students have,” Hiegert said. “KSHAA has reported since this bill has passes that there was only three trans girls that were registered to play in KSHAA govern sports. How would we create leagues if there aren’t enough trans athletes for them to have teams?”

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