Human Rights Campaign Applauds Kansas Governor Laura Kelly for Vetoing Extremist Attacks on Transgender Lives

by Cullen Peele

In her veto statement, the Governor says, “I’m focused on the economy. Anyone care to join me?”

Topeka, KS - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, commended Kansas Governor Laura Kelly for vetoing a total of four bills designed to limit the security, privacy, and dignity of transgender Kansans. In her veto statement, Governor Kelly stated that “companies have made it clear that they are not interested in doing business with states that discriminate against workers and their families.” “I’m focused on the economy. Anyone care to join me?,” Kelly further added.

“Today, Governor Kelly did the right thing. By vetoing a series of bills designed solely to discriminate against LGBTQ+ – particularly transgender – Kansans, she rejected the politics of hate and division being perpetrated by the state legislature, all while keeping her focus on the issues that really matter. She’s right that discrimination is bad for business, bad for Kansas, and bad for this nation.”

Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

The bills vetoed by the Governor are as follows:

  • SB 26: Prohibits transgender youth from receiving gender affirming care

  • SB 180: Applies a definition of gender discriminating against transgender individuals

  • SB 228: Requires individuals to use restrooms aligning with their gender assigned at birth

  • HB 2128: Forces misgendering in overnight and jail cell accommodations for transgender Kansans

Today’s vetoes follow Governor Kelly’s prior veto of a discriminatory anti-transgender sports ban last month. Despite Governor Kelly’s clear indication that the legislation would do more to stigmatize a vulnerable group of children, extremist lawmakers ultimately voted to override her veto, enacting the ban into law.

Kelly is currently in her second term as governor, winning her bid for reelection last year. Despite a series of ads attacking Kelly for her vetoes of sports bans targeting transgender youth, and her opponents’ promise that he would sign anti-transgender legislation if elected, Kansas voters turned out and decided to reject anti-equality rhetoric and extremism by reelecting Governor Kelly.

So far in 2023, HRC is opposing more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 210 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.

This year, HRC is tracking:

  • More than 120 bills that would prevent transgender youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, 12 have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia and North Dakota.

  • More than 30 bathroom ban bills filed,

  • More than 100 curriculum censorship bills and 40 anti-drag performance bills.

In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. Despite this, fewer than 10% of these efforts succeeded. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law.

Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in 2022 took several forms, including:

  • 80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. 19 states now exclude transgender athletes in school sports.

  • 42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. 5 states now restrict access to gender-affirming care.

  • 70 curriculum censorship bills tried to turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. 7 passed into law.

More than 300 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed in states across the country. Major employers in tech, manufacturing, hospitality, health care, retail, and other sectors are joining with a unified voice to say discrimination is bad for business and to call on lawmakers to abandon these efforts. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.

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