Kansas governor vetoes ‘harmful’ trans sports ban

Kansas governor Laura Kelly addresses a crowd as she stands at a podium

Governor Laura Kelly has rejected a bid by Republicans to ban trans athletes in girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas. 

The Democrat vetoed Senate Bill 160 (SB 160) on Friday (15 April) that would have banned trans students from participating in girls’ and women’s sports at publicly-funded elementary schools through to college in Kansas. 

In a statement about her veto, Kelly argued that the trans sports ban would not only harm Kansas’ children and families but also the state’s ability to attract and retain business, KSHB reported.   

“Both Republican and Democratic Governors have joined me in vetoing similar divisive bills for the same reasons: it’s harmful to students and their families and it’s bad for business,” Kelly said. 

She added: “We all want a fair and safe place for our kids to play and compete. 

“However, this bill didn’t come from the experts at our schools, our athletes or the Kansas State High School Activities Association. 

“It came from politicians trying to score political points.”

Kelly vetoed similar legislation that made its way to her desk last year, and Republicans fell just short of overriding her veto in the Kansas Senate

Conservative lawmakers will undoubtedly attempt to override Kelly’s veto of SB 160 when the state’s House and Senate are set to reconvene on 25 April. But the Associated Press reported that the measure didn’t clear either the House or Senate with the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. 

The ACLU of Kansas thanked Kelly on Twitter for vetoing the “prejudiced and harmful bill” which would have targeted trans youth in the state. 

“This bill was legalised bullying in the name of identity politics and it has no place in Kansas,” the ACLU of Kansas wrote. 

The organisation added that Kansans “stood up and spoke out” against this “hateful legislation” at “every opportunity” possible. 

“They affirmed what we know: The opportunity to participate in sports and other school activities is paramount to our children,” the ACLU of Kansas wrote. “Not only does it encourage physical health, it teaches the importance of community, teamwork, and perseverance in achieving a goal.”

Trans sports bans have been enacted into law in fifteen states across the US, including Kentucky this week. 

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear vetoed a similar measure earlier this month, arguing that it “discriminates against transgender children”. However, Republicans in the state legislature quickly overturned the veto to force the ban through. 

GOP lawmakers in IowaSouth DakotaOklahoma, Arizona and Utah have enacted trans sports bans.

Republican governor Eric Holcomb vetoed an anti-trans sports ban in March, but conservatives could overturn this when the state legislature meets next month.  

LGBT+ advocates watched as a number of trans sports bans were passed into law in ArkansasAlabamaFloridaMississippiMontanaTennesseeTexas and West Virginia last year.