Kansas will ban transgender student athletes from competing in women’s sports, starting this summer.
Lawmakers in the state’s House and Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s third veto and pass the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which bans anyone assigned male at birth from competing in women’s and girls’ sports.
“It breaks my heart. It certainly is disappointing. I know that there are some legislators for whom this was a very, very hard vote, one that I think that they will regret as they look back on their time in the legislature,” Kelly told reporters after the votes.
Kansas’ House voted 84-to-40 and the state’s Senate voted 28-to-12 to enact the ban following minimal debate.
“The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act protects the rights of female athletes in the state by requiring that female student athletic teams only include members who are biologically female. House Republicans are united in our commitment to defending the intention of Title IX,” House Republican leaders said in a statement.
“We proudly stand with the female athletes across Kansas in their pursuit of athletic awards, opportunities and scholarships and believe they deserve every chance at success afforded to their male counterparts.”
Currently, there are 109,000 students registered in the Kansas High School Athletics Association. Eleven of those students are transgender.
“All I’m seeing is people saying they hate my child. They hate other kids like my child. They hate children and they’re not really fighting for them,” said Democratic Rep. Heather Meyer, whose child is transgender. “It just makes me upset, and I’m tired. But I’m going to keep fighting.”
In January, a federal judge ruled West Virginia’s transgender sports ban is constitutional. Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina and Mississippi also restrict transgender athletes from playing on girls’ sports teams.
The Kansas Attorney General’s Office issued a statement Wednesday, vowing to defend the new state law if it is challenged.
“I applaud the legislature for overriding the governor’s veto and protecting girls’ sports,” Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach said after the votes.
“As the father of five daughters who are involved in sports, I care deeply about the fairness in girls’ sports,” Kobach said. “If any group challenges this law in court, I will defend it vigorously. And I am confident that the law will survive any challenge.”
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