Human Rights Campaign Denounces Kansas Legislature for Overriding Governor Laura Kelly’s Veto of Bill Banning Transgender Students from School Sports

by Cullen Peele

Topeka, KS - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemned Kansas legislators for voting to override Governor Kelly’s veto of HB 2238, a bill banning the participation of transgender student-athletes in school sports. This is the third discriminatory sports ban that lawmakers sent to Governor Kelly’s desk. Even though there are just three transgender students competing in school-related sports in Kansas, lawmakers continued to promote misinformation and fear surrounding transgender people throughout their time pushing the bill.

“Kansas legislators have a responsibility to address the real problems facing their communities and the constituents they serve. However, anti-equality legislators have clearly indicated that manufacturing issues in order to sanction discrimination under the law is more important than the well-being of a marginalized group of children. Transgender students participate in school sports for the same reason other kids do—to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline and teamwork, and to have fun. With her veto, Governor Kelly sent a clear message that transgender kids are kids, and that they are owed the same dignity and respect as their peers.

However, legislators, desperate in their attempt to appeal to the far fringes of their base, willfully ignored this fact by pushing this bill into law. Transgender youth will now experience more shame, stigma, and isolation at an age when they’re in most need of connection with their peers. LGBTQ+ Kansans aren’t going anywhere and we will keep fighting back for as long as these attacks continue.”

Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

A majority of Americans oppose discriminatory bills seeking to ban transgender and non-binary youth from participation in sports. A PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states. And a poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

Advocates for women and girls in sports support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports. This includes the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, and others — including prominent female athletes like Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Cheryl Reeve. That’s because while there are real issues facing women’s sports, including a lack of resources devoted to supporting them, transgender participation in athletics is not one of them. And nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states that have enacted anti-trans sports laws.

The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups oppose sports bans. Groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender children in particular.

In 2022, lawmakers introduced 80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law. 19 states exclude transgender athletes in school sports.

For more information, please access the following resources on HRC’s website:

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